A surprise visit for Clark Terry on his 94th birthday

Jazz At Lincoln Centre Orchestra perform for Clark Terry

Musicians from Jazz At Lincoln Centre Orchestra visited legendary jazz trumpeter Clark Terry in hospital and played for him right at his bed side.

Musicians from Jazz At Lincoln Centre paid a visit to legendary jazz trumpeter Clark Terry in hospital on his 94th birthday. Not only did they present Clark with a 94th birthday cake but the Jazz At Lincoln Centre Orchestra set up and played for Clark, right at his bed side.

Wynton Marsalis led the ensemble and award winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant also attended the hospital in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Clark is a much respected jazz trumpeter and was a key member of The Duke Ellington and Count Basie Orchestras in the 1950s and fellow trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie's favourite player with a bright and distinctly uplifting tone.

Facebook subscribers can see the images from the visit at JALC photographer Frank Stewart’s Facebook page.

Wynton Marsalis and Cécile McLorin Salvant with Clark Terry.

Wynton wrote about the occasion on his Facebook page: 

This was a day off and originally planned as a trip to his home to celebrate his upcoming 94th birthday but an emergency on Friday night had landed CT in the hospital. With literally no lead-time, the hospital was able to source and set up a classroom so we could come in and play for him. As we pulled up to the everyday world of the hospital, with two tour buses and an equipment truck, we knew it would be special. From the security guards who set aside parking spaces for us, to the hospital administrators, aides and the assistants working specifically with Clark, to his wife Gwen and some of their friends, everyone and everything was soaked in hospitality, human feeling and soul. 

As Clark's bed was wheeled in we launched into Duke and Strayhorn's “Peanut Brittle Brigade” from their version of Tchaikovsky's “Nutcracker”. After playing, we each went over to his bed, introduced ourselves and said a little something about our pedigree and how much we appreciated his contributions to our personal development and to the music. He recognised each of us and responded to every salutation with some pithy comment of joyful appreciation. 

The hospital staff stood by watching in amazement as this informal caravan of musicians who had transformed this classroom into a concert hall, genuflected one by one before a patient who they knew was important for some reason.... but this type of homage perhaps meant something different from whatever their perceptions might have been. Without knowing his music or his profoundly personal influence on so many of us it was probably impossible for them to realise that they were caring for one of the world's great Maestros. 

Later we went to Clark's home. Gwen and some friends had a spread laid out. Good fried chicken and catfish, coleslaw, succotash, you know, the usual suspects that never wear out their welcome.  Pure southern soul. 

He lived as a jazzman, full of soul and sophistication, sass, grit and mother wit, and he made us want to become real jazz musicians.


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