Calling Clark Terry

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.

Jury/Recital Time

Been busily preparing charts for my upcoming graduation recital. Going with a theme that’s a kind of snapshot of jazz 1957-59. What an interesting time in music – modal jazz, hard bop, free jazz, third stream, Mingus… even bossa is kind of starting to come on in a big way around then. It’s a lot to bite off, but I hope it’ll be an interesting program. Here’s a playlist of the tunes I’m trying to get together:

Edit: What did I end up playing?

  • Invisible, Ornette Coleman
  • Fables of Faubus, Mingus
  • Cornet Chop Suey, Louis (Alan’s arrangement)
  • Rodrigo Concerto, after Jim Hall & Miles (my arrangement)
  • Blue in Green, Miles (my arrangement)

Wynton Marsalis On Song Travels : NPR

Here’s a nice interview with Wynton Marsalis. We’ve all heard his rap about jazz & American classical music before, but he says some pretty elegant things here. I especially like what he has to say about racism & bad behaviour in art, stuff I struggle with when listening to folks like Sinatra & Wagner. “Sometimes we rise above ourselves, sometimes we fall below.” Did Hoagy Carmichael say racist things? Maybe. Stardust is still a great song. “You don’t have to be an angel for me to accept what you did.”

Wynton Marsalis On Song Travels : NPR.