About a month ago (maybe a bit more?), my teacher Alan Matheson invited me to come hang out for his weekly phone conversation with jazz legend Clark Terry. The two struck up a friendship in the 90s that continues today, even as Clark is in his 90s. So I got to chat with Mr. Terry a bit! What a sweet, sweet man. I told him of a transcription I’ve been working on of his tune, Clark After Dark, and mentioned that he has been a great influence on me and my musical life. He asked after my family and expressed interest in the transcription – he even asked me to send along a copy when I’m finished (will I ever be finished???). We chatted about health and the weather and the little details of our lives, it was surprisingly easy and nice.
Afterward Al and I hung out while he gave me some tips on the transcription, and Alan lent me a book of Mr. Terry’s called Terrytunes, which is a great little compendium of Clark’s tunes, along with instructions for doodle-tonguing and a couple of bits of commentary. (It seemed it was out of print at the time, but now it’s available again, so I just ordered a copy. Sweet!)
Since the meeting, I’ve been working through the book, listening to and playing lots of Clark’s tunes. Clark’s date with Oscar Peterson, Oscar Peterson Trio + Clark Terry, is unbelievable, as are so many of his records. What I really like about it is how intimate and in touch these two monster musicians sound. There are some beautiful little ballads here, too, where OP takes on a really different character from his usual showy style, sitting and comping sparsely and beautifully in the background under Clark’s sweet sound. What a record, what a guy, what a life.