Clark Terry, a born raconteur

As in literature, the essence of music is a good story. No matter if it is Prokofiev’s “Love for three Oranges’ or a Beethoven sonata or the blues, which invariably starts with something like: ‘early one monday morning, he rang me on the te-le-phone’.

Only a good story reaches your heart. If told well. A top singer in jazz or classical music often looks for one face in the crowd and imagines that he is or she sings for that person only.

Luckily, I am not more than two or three handshakes away from the musical great. On average, that is. It is with Clark Terry that I have been the most intimate. Around 1990, he performed in an old jazz café in Amsterdam. Dressed in white on white in white, as Lou Rawls would say. I had taken along some of his records, just in case. During an interval I saw him disappear into the gents. My luck. I made for the toilets as well. Side by side, we took care of our business against a white tiled wall and talked. We washed our hands and talked. Then he signed my records. Classy autograph, with a small trumpet inside. Then we shook hands. Good for my average.

Look and listen how Clark Terry tells a story. With trumpet or without. Just before the end of the short clip (1:54), the accompaniment stops and Clark carries on.

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