Hey gang! Just a really quick note between my "cramming" for next Wednesday's gig. If you don't know my main man and mentor Clark Terry will be celebrating his 85th Birthday on the 14th. Up in UNH we'll have a big concert for his B-day and we'll be doing some playing with an alumni band playing CT charts (the trumpet section should be okay with some guys like Dave Ballou (steeplechase), Jay Daly(top call in the NE), Taylor Haskins (Dave Holland BB), and I get to play 4th. NICE). There are some excellent special guests coming, including at least ONE MAJOR force in jazz trumpet. It's going to be a great night for a great man! For more info go to www.trentaustin.com/dates.htm I think tickets for this event are only like $8 or something! I hope to see you there and hope we can all celebrate with CT! Best, TBirthday bash By Chris Elliott [email protected] People marvel at the longevity of the Rolling Stones, but if you really want to see a contemporary manifestation of great musicianship and living well, get to the Paul Creative Arts Center at the University of New Hampshire on Wednesday, Dec. 14. The legendary Clark Terry will celebrate his 85th birthday with a concert in the Johnson Theater beginning at 8 p.m. Terry is a brilliant trumpeter whose storied, seven-decade career includes a long stint with the Duke Ellington orchestra as a featured soloist, as well as several years of close association with the Count Basie Big Band. Terry could also be described as the Jackie Robinson of American studio musicians, in that he was the first African-American musician ever hired by NBC. His irrepressible humor and stunning virtuosity on the trumpet made him a natural fit for television appearances on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. Terry still works dozens of concert dates each year on a schedule he described as "feast or famine" in a recent telephone interview from his home in New Jersey. "After the show in Durham, we go to Chicago, and then weâ€™re headed to Sweden. Itâ€™s busy right now, but it slows down," Terry said. In addition to his tremendous ability on the trumpet, he is an entertaining vocalist. He scored a huge hit with his track "Mumbles" in 1966, a blues-based improvisational piece in which he achieves a unique balance between jazz scat and utter gibberish. The lead vocal, which was conceived as a parody of the less than intelligible classic blues singers, is an almost comprehensible barrage of syllabic nonsense that is both highly musical and irresistibly funny. Jazz musicians are sometimes notoriously humorless. Not Clark Terry. As to the comedic component of Terryâ€™s performance, he is characteristically humble. "If you keep it a little bit funny, it helps you get away with more," Terry said. Trumpeter Clark Terry will bring his humor, talent and a killer band to the stage Dec. 14 in Durham. Terry has been a distinguished associate of the UNH Music Department for more than 30 years. Dr. Terry (he holds honorary degrees from more than a dozen universities) will forever have a lasting legacy as one of the great music educators in the history of jazz. The rare combination of stellar technique, harmonic and rhythmic genius, and natural affability has made him one of the greatest teachers on his instrument the world has ever known. Jazz musicians often lack superlative technique on their instruments. Even from a classical trumpeterâ€™s standpoint though, Terryâ€™s technique is superb. "I got on the right track from the beginning, and thatâ€™s probably why I can still play," Terry said. "I reached around and learned what I could from players I liked." His willingness to give away what he knows is not necessarily the norm among musicians, particularly jazz musicians, and even more particularly trumpet players. Terry tells a story about trying to find his way as a young trumpeter growing up in St. Louis, and asking an established trumpet player he admired for a few pointers. "He told me to practice looking into the mirror, and to make sure that I gritted my teeth whenever I played. He also said that while I was practicing I should try to wiggle my left ear. Not the right one, he said. The left one. Sure enough I practiced that way for a while," Terry said. Clark Terry is the antithesis of that kind of defensive, proprietary player. "Heâ€™s the reason that I play trumpet," said Trent Austin, one of the Boston areaâ€™s most in-demand trumpet players, and a graduate of the jazz studies program at UNH. "I donâ€™t know if there is a better trumpet player anywhere. His technique is incredible. His set, sound, embouchure, everything trumpet players go for, Terry is a master of it all. I will always emulate his playing." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- WHAT CLARK TERRY'S 85TH BIRTHDAY WHEN Wednesday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m. WHERE Johnson Theatre, Paul Creative Arts Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham COST adults $8, students/seniors $6, CONTACT 862-2290 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Austin tells a story of playing an up-tempo tune on the same stage as Terry, and, after wrapping up his own solo, feeling genuinely surprised and pleased at how well he played. Clark was next to solo, and he absolutely burned. "I mean, it was incredible, just a beautiful, exciting solo. I looked over at him and he had been playing the whole thing holding the trumpet upside down." Dr. Terryâ€™s 30-year relationship with the university has everything to do with Austinâ€™s professional accomplishments, as well as the code of ethics that defines his person. "Not only is he the best trumpet player Iâ€™ve ever gotten close to, heâ€™s also the nicest person Iâ€™ve ever known in my life," Austin said. On Dave Seilerâ€™s recommendation, Terry took Austin on as a student at his jazz camp in Wisconsin while Austin was still in high school, and remained a significant contributor to his development as a player throughout his college years and to this day. The Band The ensemble accompanying Clark Terry on Wednesday is composed of many of UNHâ€™s finest alumni musicians dating back 30 years, to when Clark Terry began his close relationship with UNH. Faculty performers and guest artists representing various stages of Terryâ€™s career will also perform. The aforementioned Trent Austin indicated that he would be there early and stay late, and also that he had told all of the most burning cats he knows that C.T. was in town and that should they show up and bring instruments. Gray Sargent will join Terry on this date, offering an opportunity to see a world-class jazz guitarist in an accompanying role. A trio setting with guitar as the focal instrument is a great way to see Sargent, so to have him chopping chords and blowing an occasional solo in a large band setting seems almost an embarrassment of riches. Just to make sure Trent Austin doesnâ€™t relax too much, Nicholas Payton will also be featured on trumpet. Payton has the full New Orleans pedigree having attended the University of New Orleans and studied with Ellis Marsalis. He has previously worked with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (author's note: I saw them with Nicholas at Yoshiâ€™s in Oakland when Payton was a kid - it was heart-stopping), Marcus Roberts, Carl Allen, and, of course, Clark Terry. He has most recently begun to evolve outward, bringing a contemporary sensibility into his well-established classic jazz underpinnings. Clark Terry has always been surrounded by brilliant musicians. His quintet, his big bands, and his sessions have always been peopled with the best of the best. He will be in likewise good company at the UNH birthday concert. A recommendation from this desk A visit to www.clarkterry.com is well worth the trip. It is a remarkably well-designed Web site, a further manifestation of Clark Terryâ€™s standard of excellence. As one scrolls through his discography, sampling selected audio tracks along the way, the scope of Terryâ€™s accomplishments begins to come into focus. He is truly one of the greatest jazz musicians on any instrument that has ever lived, and the opportunity to see him perform with a great band so close to home and at these bargain prices is an opportunity that should not be missed. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Blues Bank Collective in Portsmouth has announced that jazz artist Clark Terry is the recipient of the organizationâ€™s 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is given to those who demonstrate a commitment to perpetuating the traditions of Black Music and to helping to promote racial diversity and harmony through their music. The award will be presented to Terry at the 85th Birthday Celebration being held in his honor at UNH on Dec. 14. This is the first time that the award is being presented to a jazz artist. "Clark Terry is the personification of the spirit of this award" said Blues Bank Collective President Alan Chase. "His commitment to perpetuating jazz through his performances and educational initiatives, as well as his commitment to the idea of jazz and blues representing a way to uplift people of all races, makes him, in our minds, the ideal recipient for this award." The Blues Bank Collective is a 501C3 non-profit whose primary mission is diversity education through blues music programs. The organizations educational programs, Blues In The Schools and Hope, Heroes and the Blues have been presented in schools across the US and Canada as well as in Europe and Africa. Past winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award include nationally known artists Pinetop Perkins and Taj Mahal, and local personalities Roy Jones, Jeannie Jones and Bruce Pingree.