This past Monday, (April 23, 2012) I had the tremendous honour of being invited to participate in a Benefit Concert for Clark Terry. You may know that Clark, now 91 years old, has being dealing with a number of health challenges lately, including the amputation of both of his legs. His medical bills have been paid, for some time now, by the Jazz Foundation of America – a charitable foundation devoted to assisting Jazz musicians with similar challenges – the Benefit was held to fundraise for them, in order to defray some of the substantial outlay they’ve made on Clark’s behalf.
It was quite simply one of the most remarkable events I have ever been to, let alone had the chance to perform at! The assembled performers read like a “Who’s Who” of Jazz in the past several decades, including a number of Clark’s fellow NEA Jazz Masters. A remarkable experience that I will never forget! We assembled, before the concert, for a group photo.
I’m going to attempt to list as many of the musicians in attendance as possible. See who you can pick out from the picture above.
Trumpets: Greg Gisbert, Ingrid Jensen, Tony Lujan, Jimmy Owens, Jeremy Pelt, Wallace Roney (Sr and Jr!), Noah Schpak, Don Sickler, Lew Soloff (and me!)
Trombones: Art Baron, Wycliffe Gordon, Clifford Adams, Steve Turre, Conrad Herwig, Jack Jeffers
Saxophones/Reeds: Paquito D’Rivera, David Demsey, Bill Saxton, Phil Woods, Jimmy Heath, John Simon, Dave Glasser, Bob Kindred, Lou Donaldson, Frank Wess
Piano: Mulgrew Miller, Cedar Walton, Helen Sung, Justin Kauflin, Norman Simmonds, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Barry Harris, Don Friedman
Guitar: Mark Elf, Gene Bertoncini, Russell Malone
Bass: Marcus McLaurine, Ron Carter, Essiet Essiet, Lisle Atkinson, Buster Williams, Rufus Reid
Drums: Sylvia Cuenca, Jimmy Cobb, Louis Hayes, Winard Harper, Carl Allen, Victor Lewis, Bill Goodwin
Vocals: Melba Joyce, Dee Daniels, Shawnn Monteiro, Anne Phillips
Quite a list, as you can see. To top it all, Clark Terry appeared with his wife Gwen via Skype; beamed onto the wall of St Peters Church, where the event took place.
Clark was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from both his fellow musicians and the large audience in attendance. Overall, it was a tremendously joyous occasion, despite the unfortunate circumstances behind it.
If you missed it, there a few videos apparently due to start appearing on YouTube before long. I’ll update this post with some links when I can. If you would like to contribute to the Jazz Foundation of America, you can do so online, and even specify that your donation be made in honour of Clark via their website donation page.
Also, you can keep up with Clark and his recovery via his website: ClarkTerry.com. There are regular blog posts made about his progress. There is also a Guestbook where you can leave him a message. Gwen reads them all to him and he gets the biggest kick out of it! In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I built the website; hence the fact that I was invited to perform in the first place. I hope you all enjoy it.