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Monday, February 23, 2015

On Clark Terry

By Stef

Yesterday, trumpet and flugelhorn player Clark Terry passed away at the age of 94. He was not a free jazz musician, not by a long stretch, but a real bopper and bluesman, so I am a little bit out of my league commenting on him. But then again, he has offered me so much musical joy, and still does, when I listen to his albums with the Trumpet Kings, the four trumpet front with Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge and Harry 'Sweets' Edison, and with Oscar Peterson on piano, playing blues and boogie and bop in a great spirit of improvised fun and the happiness of playing together, mostly live with enthusiastic audiences, who still applaud after each solo.

I'm listening to it now, and it's hard to qualify the music as artistic, in the sense of creating innovative listening experiences, yet what it lacks in artistic character, is largely compensated by the entertainment level, the presence of the musicians, the beautiful sounds of the trumpets and the fantastic atmosphere.

Thanks for the great music, Clark!


Honkermann said...

Stef, thanks for this. I don't listen to CLark Terry much, either, but it's important to honor the passing of important musicians.

But, I disagree with your comment about the music lacking artistic content, and "being entertainment". I think it's important to recall that bebop, in its day, was radical and political. Free jazz became free because of the progress of the civil rights movement. Freedom was not possible before that, because of American apartheid.

It's good to identify what qualities you love in art, but it's dangerous to apply those standards to all art of all eras...the danger being, we misinterpret and miss out.

Anonymous said...

'Free' or not (who cares?), he did feature on a couple of Cecil Taylor albums (Jumpin' Punkins and New York City R&B).