“this is NOT a memorial service,” Rev. Amandus Derr happily intoned in his lengthy opening remarks. Rev. Derr is Sr. Pastor of St. Peter’s, the Jazz Church in N.Y.C. where the pews were packed to raise high our praises for one of the greatest musicians and personalities in jazz, if not all music. CLARK TERRY. the nonagenarian lost both legs to diabetes and has not been in generally good health for some time. we WERE there to more than just defray his medical costs.

there were nearly four dozen performaners with as many more musicians auditing the proceedings: pros, colleagues, students, amateurs, acolytes, celebs, friends and fans cheered from the sidelines.



le toute ensemble (photo Ed Berger)

the subject checked in via Skype with devoted spouse Gwen at his side. with humor intact “Mumbles” even gave us a couple of bars of that unique vocal style.


CT & Gwen's Skype cameo. (photo Ed Berger)

the Terry twosome joined in writing the autobio entitled simply “Clark.” it’s a series of short chapters filled with joyous vignettes of a life spent on the road, in bars, clubs, concert halls, studios, and hospitals, and just hanging out. a quick read, the book opens with a line about his boyhood friend “Shitty.” how can do you put down a tome which opens with a dude named “Shitty”?

after preaching to the choir about Clark at the St. Peter’s do Dr. David Demssy, the sax-playing president and curator of the jazz archives at William Paterson University in N.J. played a tune with Clark’s latest trio: Helen Sung, Marcus McLaurine –the music coordinator for the event– and Syivia Cuenca, exemplifying what jazz is all about: the tones of the universe.

Dr. Demsey did a masterful job hosting. the musical fare were all familiar; the instrumentation ditto, but it was the joie d’vivre and love encompassing the night and the man that was the feature.


Lew Soloff & Wycliffe Gordon plunging for CT  (photo Ed Berger)

the musicians came on, had their musical say and were whisked off. if not for that we would have been there all night. as it was they literally locked the doors behind me. that never would have happened under the Revs. John Garcia Gensel and Dale Lind, who was on hand to offer his benediction.

i guess we have to be thankful that we still have such a place to worship our gods and celebrate camaraderie, often taking the corporeal form of personages such as Clark Terry.

all proceeds went to Clark for expenses via the Jazz Foundation of America. the musicians worked pro bono.

grand finale w/some of the musicians: Bryan Davis, Conrad Herwig, Don Sickler, Bob Kindred, Lew Soloff, Art Baron, ?? (photo by Frederic Sater)

- © arnold jay smith

April 2012


International Jazz Day Mon. Apr. 30. in New Orleans and on WBGO-88.3 FM &




Leave a Reply

Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy | Copyright Notice | Anti Spam Policy | Earnings Disclaimer | Health Disclaimers | Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy