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Clark TerryClark Terry, (December 14, 1920–February 21, 2015), jazz trumpet player, scat singer, composer, educator

Clark Terry was one of the major swing soloists on the trumpet and a godfather of jazz to thousands. He was born in St. Louis and took up trumpet and valve trombone. He started out playing in local jazz clubs before moving to New York.

Terry is one of a handful of musicians that played in the bands of both Count Basie and Duke Ellington. He was known for a smooth, warm sound and imaginative solo work, complemented by a joyous, outgoing personality and keen sense of humor. He pioneered the use of the flügelhorn in jazz and developed a legato approach to swing with the use of his “doodle” tonguing. He later became the first African-American staff musician at NBC when he joined the Tonight Show Band. During Johnny Carson’s tenure, the popular “Stump the Band” segment would often feature Terry’s conversational scat singing in a routine that later turned into his best-known song, Mumbles, which he first recorded with Oscar Peterson.

Besides recording with various groups with such as Peterson, Thelonious Monk, Bob Brookmeyer, Red Holloway, and Louie Bellson, he also fronted an orchestra known as the Big B-A-D Band, which featured performers such as Phil Woods, Jimmy Heath, and Duke Jordan, as well as the arrangements of Ernie Wilkins. He continued to perform in his later years and appears on almost 1,000 recordings as a leader or sideman. He also served as a jazz ambassador for the United Nations

In addition to his work as a performing artist, Terry was deeply interested in jazz education and helping out young musicians. This began early in life when he mentored fellow St. Louis trumpet player Miles Davis, as well as musician and producer Quincy Jones. Terry played an important role with Dr. Billy Taylor in the development of jazz education and later taught at William Paterson University. He later helped discover and promote a new generation of leading jazz stars, such as Dianne Reeves and Wynton Marsalis. This side of his professional life is featured in the critically acclaimed 2014 documentary Keep On Keepin’ On,” which showcases Terry helping and encouraging the young blind jazz pianist, Justin Kauflin. Diabetes may have slowed him down in his 90’s , but he continued to teach and inspire visiting musicians from around the world at his home in Arkansas. He also published his autobiography in 2011.

His numerous honors include a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an NEA Jazz Master, and over a dozen honorary doctorates. He also had the distinction of performing for eight U.S. Presidents. Clark Terry died from diabetes at the age of 94.

Visit the official Clark Terry website here.

On a personal note, one of the biggest highlights of my professional career was sharing the stage with CT during my college years at the University of Montana. Not only was he one of the most gifted musicians I’ve ever known, but he remains in my memory as one of the kindest and encouraging, as well. An amateur photographer friend took a couple of pictures of the two of us on stage. I had one blown up into a poster and years later, when our paths crossed again here in Wichita, I had him autograph it for me. It is one of my most prized possessions.

Playing "Take The 'A' Train"

Playing “Take The ‘A’ Train”

CT& Me (Feb. 2, 1985)

CT & Me (Feb. 2, 1985)

My sincere condolences to his dear wife, Gwen. I am looking forward to a great jam session with him again in the presence of God, who Clark affectionately referred to as “Big Prez.” His humility, graciousness, and generosity of spirit remain as an example of a life well lived. As CT himself said in a recent blog post:

“To all of you who are still on this side of the grass with me, I want you to know that I appreciate everything that you have done and are doing for me. I thank Big Prez for all of your kindness and encouragement every single day. I love you with all of my heart. Let’s keep praying for each other, and keep on keepin’ on!”

 

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Maazel2Lorin Maazel, (March 6, 1930 – July 13, 2014), conductor and composer.

Lorin Maazel was born in France, but raised in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. Both his parents and his grandfather were successful concert musicians and his own musical talents were evident at an early age. He began piano studies at the age of five, followed by the violin and conducting lessons. He conducted his first public concert at the age of eight. He went on to attend and conduct the Interlochen Music Camp orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony the following year. At the age of 11, Toscanini invited him to guest conduct the famed NBC Symphony Orchestra for a radio broadcast. His conducting teachers included Vladimir Bakaleinikov and Pierre Monteux.

At the age of thirty, he became the first American and youngest conductor to perform at Wagner’s Bayreuth Opera House. He was also the first conductor to record Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with an all African-American cast. Maazel divided his time between engagements in the U.S. and Europe. He replaced George Szell as conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. He also held long-term posts with the French National Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Symphony. Other conducting appointments included the Gershwin Concert Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony, Vienna State Opera, Pittsburgh Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic, (beginning his seven-year tenure there shortly after the 9/11 attack and leading the orchestra on a celebrated tour of North Korea in 2008).

Maazel was especially noted for his opera performances. He conducted for the film recordings of Carmen and Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Otello, both of which featured Placido Domingo, as well as the two operas of Maurice Ravel, (L’heure espagnole and L’enfant et les sortilèges) and Beethoven’s Fidelio. He also conducted the premiere performance and audio and video recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem, which won a Grammy Award. Other notable recordings during his career include complete symphonic cycles of Beethoven, Mahler, Sibelius, and Rachmaninoff, as well as one of the first digital recordings of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

In addition to his career, Maazel also composed music, most notably an opera 1984, based on Orwell’s dystopian novel, as well as concertante works for Mstislav Rostropovich and James Galway. He founded a music festival held annually at his estate in Castleton Farms, Virginia, His honors include 4 Grammy Awards, (including one for John Adams‘ 9/11 tribute piece On the Transmigration of Souls), 10 Grande Prix du Disque Awards, and a Commander of the French Legion of Honor. He died at the age of 84 from pneumonia at his home in Virginia, where he had been rehearsing and preparing for his Castleton Festival.

Alan Gilbert, Maazel’s successor at the New York Philharmonic, had this to say about him:

For decades he was a major force in the musical world, and truly an inspiration for generations of American musicians… Personally, I am grateful to him, not only for the brilliant state of the Orchestra that I inherited from him, but for the support and encouragement he extended to me when I took over his responsibilities.”

Visit the official Lorin Maazel website here.

PacoPaco de Lucía, (born Francisco Gustavo Sánchez Gomes, December 21, 1947–February 25, 2014), flamenco guitarist.

Paco de Lucía was born into a musical family in the port city of Algeciras, Spain. His father was a guitarist and gave instruction to him as a child. His stage name (lit. Lucía’s [son]) followed him from childhood, where it identified him amidst a number of other children named Paco in his neighborhood. In addition to his father, he was influenced by his older brother, Ramón de Algeciras, and the two established flamenco masters of the guitar: Niño Ricardo and Sabicas. After winning an international flamenco competition at the age of 12, de Lucía began a recording and performing career that would span five decades.

He recorded several duet albums, first with guitarists Ricardo Modrega and later his brother, Ramón, then in a series of recordings with vocalist Camarón de la Isla. During the 1970’s, he gave a number of historic performances, including the first flamenco performance at Madrid’s Teatro Real, a concert with Carlos Santana in Barcelona, and an appearance on the BBC. He also recorded two of his best known pieces, “Entre Dos Aguas” and “Rio Ancho”.

Guitar trio with Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin

Guitar trio with Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin

His participation in the Guitar Trio with jazz musicians Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin brought increased exposure in the United States, especially from the landmark recording Friday Night in San Francisco. He also worked frequently with jazz pianist Chick Corea. During this time, he also formed a sextet which included his older brother Ramón on guitar and young brother, Pepe de Lucía on vocals. De Lucía also starred in and provided the music for Carlos Saura’s film Carmen, a flamenco ballet version of the Bizet opera.

In addition to his experiments with acoustic jazz, de Lucía also explored classical music, recording Joaquín Rodrigo’s famous Concierto de Aranjuez in the presence of the composer, along with flamenco interpretations of the music of Isaac Albéniz and Manuel de Falla.

De Lucía was honored with a Grammy Award, the 2004 Prince of Asturias Arts Award and honorary doctorates from the University of Cádiz and the Berklee College of Music. His compositions and playing technique, with the guitar placed over his crossed right leg, revolutionized flamenco and brought it to the forefront of the international music scene. He also introduced the South American cajón drum to flamenco and made it an integral part of the music.

De Lucía’s sudden death from a heart attack in Mexico at age 66 was a shock to the musical world and tributes poured in from musicians such as Carlos Santana, Julio & Enrique Iglesias, Al Di Meola, and fellow flamenco guitarist Tomatito. Chick Corea said on Twitter that “Paco inspired me in the construction of my own musical world as much as Miles Davis and John Coltrane.” De Lucía was the greatest Spanish guitarist since Andrés Segovia. He leaves behind one final album that is scheduled to be released in April.

“To have worked and played music with him is one the greatest blessings in my life. To say I will miss him is an understatement. In the place where he lived in my heart, there is now an emptiness that will stay with me till I join him.”

– John McLaughlin

Visit the official Paco de Lucía website here.

On a personal note, I first became aware of Paco, like many others, through his work with Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, and Chick Corea. Shortly after, I had the opportunity to see Saura’s Carmen at a little art house theater during my college days in Missoula, MT. Paco’s incredible score and Antonio Gade’s mesmerizing flamenco dancing had a profound impact on me as a musician. The things that my professors had been trying to teach me about shaping a musical line, (which I had up to this point been unable to grasp), came alive visually on-screen and I had a rare moment of spiritual and artistic clarity that continues to inspire me. Like many others, I continue to regard him as one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived. Descansa en paz.

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