The National Jazz Museum in Harlem
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Past Events

Harlem Speaks
Clark Terry
December 1, 2005

Jazz legend Clark Terry regaled the audience in the packed office of the Jazz Museum in Harlem on December 1, 2005 with recollections of his 60 year career, covering a wide range of events, some humorous and some almost heart-breaking, but all leavened with the same wit and intelligence that have long distinguished his music. His tales of his time with Count Basie, the way he was enticed to leave for Duke Ellington’s band, as well as his memories of playing at the Savoy and the Apollo Theater were all replete with detail and gut-wrenching humor. He had the audience in stitches throughout the two-hour talk with Jazz Museum Directors Christian McBride and Loren Schoenberg.
Watch video of Clark Terry speaking

Basie’s utilization of “space and time,” Lester Young’s propensity to give special names to people and things, Duke Ellington’s mastery over men as well as music, and Thelonious Monk’s eccentricities were just a few of the topics discussed. He also explained the prevalence of discrimination during his days in the Navy, and while growing up as a teenager in St. Louis. But the music was the main message, as he recalled the beauty of Billy Strayhorn as a person and his talents as a composer of both words and music, his own early influences (Roy Eldridge, Dud Bascomb), and gave a short lesson in “mumbles” scatting. In fact, he peppered his stories with riffs and vocal examples of tunes and rhythms. The question and answer period with the attentive audience turned into a mini-forum on American history – making the case of the Jazz Museum’s mission all the more clear.


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