UMSL jazz events will honor trumpet great Clark Terry

by | Feb 23, 2015

His expertise as a musician was legendary, but his readiness to mentor young musicians and students – including those at UMSL – is what sticks out in Jim Widner’s mind.

(Photo courtesy of Clark Terry.)

Clark Terry’s expertise as a musician was legendary, but his readiness to mentor young musicians and students is what sticks out in Jim Widner’s mind.

“Clark could hold court in any setting, with his charisma, his personality and his true love for mankind,” said Widner, director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. “He was one of the most generous persons I ever knew in giving of himself.”

Terry, a St. Louis native and jazz legend, died Saturday, Feb. 21, at 94. In a career reaching back to the 1940s, Terry was a trumpeter, performer with Count Basie and Duke Ellington, and mentor to figures such as Quincy Jones and Miles Davis. Terry also had a close relationship with Widner, who will be dedicating his next two events to Terry’s memory.

In addition to performing, Terry was known for working with upcoming music students, including those at UMSL. He gave numerous clinics and workshops, and even played with the UMSL Jazz Band.

“He was the epitome of what jazz is all about and also what teaching is all about, and what performing is all about,” Widner said. “The jazz world has lost a giant among giants. He was a mentor to probably just about every professional jazz musician that’s working today.”

Widner and the St. Louis Jazz Orchestra will pay tribute to Terry during their performance March 3 at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center. The concert’s theme, “Swing This,” is even more poignant due to Terry’s significance to swing music.

Widner will also dedicate the St. Louis Jazz Festival on March 20-21 to Terry’s memory. Terry was a special guest at the festival twice, most recently in 2011.

For more information on both performances, visit www.touhill.org.

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St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU

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