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I first met Clark Terry when our band was warming up next to his at the Wichita Jazz Festival in the 70’s. My best friend and I took him out to local jazz clubs after the show and that became a routine in future years when he played at the festival. Since then, I’ve seen him play a few more times, but never enough. He was always laughing, always teaching others, and always giving while continuing to be fresh, innovative and spot on with the music. My heart goes out to his family. We’ve all lost a hero.

The first time I heard Clark Terry’s voice on trumpet … 50 years ago … I couldn’t believe the joy, freshness, and technical facility behind his heart-full playing. What a spirit, what a master, and, for me, what an inspiration. I’m sure that I’m not alone in having loved his playing ever since having a first, sparkling encounter, and I’m sure I’m in good company in the subtle “Clark-isms” that emerge in my own playing, and I’m delighted and grateful to hear even a morsel of Clark emerge happily from my horn.

Holbrook Williams
02/25/2015 @ 3:38 pm

Clark on Perdido on Duke Ellington Festival Session introduced me to the charm/brilliance of CT in 1959.
My friend Jon and I saw him with Bob Brookmeyer at The Half Note in NYC in 1960 or 1961 and after a set he bought us both a beer and shared his real self in talk and questions.
Fast forward to 1989. I was given a jazz program on Community Radio Station WERU in Blue Hill, Maine. Every year since then around his birthday 12/14 I do an all Clark Terry program and include him on other days as well.
Lynnette Woods, long time friend of CT, has been my radio show guest a few times and the last time about 2 years ago she called Gwen and Clark on her cell phone while we were on air. She chatted a bit then handed the phone to me.
Clark said hello and I said ” here is my chance to tell you, Clark, that I think of you as the Buddha of the trumpet and fluegelhorn.”
Clark responded: “Yeah, man, I play the Buddhaphone.”

Justin Vargo
02/25/2015 @ 1:05 pm

In December 2007, I had the good fortune of seeing Clark Terry perform in Cleveland during some horrible weather. You knew that it was a special night when the orchestra was just as excited to be there as the audience! I’ll always remember the joy that Mr. Terry brought to Cleveland on that snowy night. I wish his family and friends the best during this difficult time. Thank you for the music, Mr. Terry, and rest in peace.

I’ll never forget the day I got to play with Clark Terry’s band. To me it was like getting called up to the big leagues if only for a day. The day before, Clark had been visited by the Lincoln Center jazz band so when I got a text from Stephen Colby asking me to come play, I thought there would just be a few local guys playing some background music but to my surprise as I walked in to Clark and Gwen’s house I was stunned as I started seeing some of the worlds greatest jazz musicians file in to the living room and take their seats. We played for probably 2 hours and then the jam session began. I’ve never seen a trumpet battle royale the likes of Mike Vax, Trent Austin, Greg Gisbert, and Benjamin Seacrist, and Brad Goode. It was out of this world. I’m sure they would laugh if they heard me say this but it all sort of reminded me of the Field of Dreams. But above all it was amazing for me to get the chance to thank Clark for what he’d meant to me. His music and his joy were a great inspiration and his humor was infectious. This was one of the greatest musical experiences of my life.

Werner Tester
02/25/2015 @ 2:47 am

Clark was my good Friend.

God bless you

Werner Tester
Chur, Switzerland

So sorry to hear the news about Clark. We went to a college concert that Clark and Louie Bellson did in Morris, Minnesota some years ago. It was sold out, but Francine got us in, somehow. We had breakfast the next morning with Louie and Francine and Clark joined us. What a thrill.
We are in New Orleans for our 50th anniversary and just saw Jason Marsalis at Snug Harbor. He did a nice call out to Clark and said how much Clark meant to Wynton as a young trumpet player. Jason did “In a Mellow Tone” on vibraphone and said it reminded him of Clark’s mellow tone.

I count myself very fortunate to have heard Clark Terry play on a regular basis while I had the opportunity, which was not as long as I’d have wished. Among other things, I credit him with teaching me and my fellow audience members to sing “hey-ba-ba-re-bop” beautifully. Both his playing and his playful spirit were uplifting, and he was a one-man college of musical knowledge. He was clearly well suited to passing all of that along. I’m sure he received a lot of well deserved thanks over the years, and I’m glad I had the foresight to thank him one evening at an event in his honour. I guess this is where gratitude becomes eternal.

This great man influenced my life and I saw his influence on thousands if young people. The heaven awaits and rejoices as Clark adds his sounds to the other great Jazz Masters. Thanks Clark for believing in me.

Mr. Terry will be missed. I’ve informed Noel Carter. My prayers and condolences to family and friends.

CT is my favourite jazz trumpet player. He welcomed me to his home last summer to teach me. He changed my approach to both teaching and playing. His kindness, generosity of his time, and demands for excellence will stay with me forever. The legacy of his recordings, both as a leader and band member will continue to teach for generations to come. CT will be sadly missed. God bless CT and his beautiful wife.

Mark Hewitt Sydney Australia
02/24/2015 @ 1:35 pm

Clark Terry,
A life well lived and well loved . I have many powerful memories of this most beautiful man .
He is now held in the loving arms and hearts of those who understood his amazing talents and dignity . Yes we met more than once ; he passes our way only once .
Farewell and thankyou good servant to mankind , gentle and safe journey.

I hear him in my dreams .

Have just returned from Milan and heard the tragic news.
My heart is so saddened by the passing of my dear friend, mentor, leader, . . . REBO! The world will not really be the same without him – his special laughter, his musical genius, his great love of life and all things real. I always told him that when Gabriel the Lord’s Number One trumpet man decided to step down that he would most definitely pass the torch on to CT and I am sure that is the case.
God Bless All who loved him and were dear to him and especially his family. My sincerest condolences to Gwen who gave him the strength and courage to keep on keepin’ on for so long.
Rest in Peace Clark and be comforted in the knowledge that your thousands of students, admirers, peers, and friends will continue the grand tradition of jazz that you taught and explained to us so well through your magnificent playing, smile, laughter, and guidance during the course of your lifetime.
All my love, thoughts, and memories of you will be in my daily prayers. Goodbye Rebo – I am so happy we got to speak one more time and laugh at your incredible stories and marvel together at this wondrous thing we call LIFE.
La Forza del Destino moves us all to our ultimate destinations. Once again, it has been my sincere pleasure to have shared in one small piece of your greatness. In my mind’s eye, you will live forever.

Your friend and colleague,
GROG (REBO) “Greggles”
Greg Bobulinski

Clark Terry had the smoothest, and most elegant jazz trumpet technique that could be imagined. I kept listening for him to fall into the same ‘licks’ that so many trumpeters of his generation used, but he never did. His originality was prodigious and yet he never lacked the common touch with students, professionals, and amateurs alike. And who can forget his sense of humour and good fun as shown in his numerous renditions of “mumbles” which became his trademark? Finally, his Tonight Show Band appearances were jazz improvisational masterworks. RIP Clark. We’ll all miss you!

In 1978 Mr. Terry came to my high school for a clinic and concert. This was in lilly-white rural Maine, so Clark was the first black person most of us had ever met. I remember I blew jazz on “Cold Tater Stomp”- on the same stage as Clark Terry, at the age of 15! I was too young to be as scared as I should have been. My jazz-head grandfather was there and had his picture taken with Clark, a picture he carried until he passed in 1986. In later years my work would take me to Sweden, where I often spoke to high school students about American jazz- and, of course, about Clark Terry. Never has jazz had a better ambassador than Mr. Terry, and I join thousands of cats around the world who had the privilege of learning from him in mourning his passing. My sympathies to those he held near and dear, and I daresay heaven will be swinging tonight!

Riccardo Frulli
02/24/2015 @ 5:57 am

Clark, every flugelhorn player is sad for you. You were the best, the unique, the master, no one will be as you have been.
Ciao… Riccardo ( Rome – Italy)

Henk Keijzer
02/24/2015 @ 4:41 am

I saw him playing in The Netherlands once. I loved his music and his playing.
I feel sorry that he died.

William Gerald
02/23/2015 @ 10:42 pm

A world class musician with a flare for life. You will truly be missed.

Gwen: I was thrilled to see Clark in NYC at the Iridium.

He had this infectious sound and complete dominance of technique. I am so sorry to hear of his passing: I wanted him to be here forever.
We shall see you.

My condolences to the family.
It was one of the greatest honors of my career to have taught at at your school in LeMars, Iowa back in 1996-1997.
God Bless you CT thank you for the many years of beautiful music and the inspiration you gave to so many musicians.