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Jazz legend Clark Terry remembered by close B.C. friend

04/26/2015 06:53 EDT | Updated 07/28/2015 04:59 EDT
Clark Terry was one of the most beloved and most recorded jazz musicians of all time. His passing in February was felt worldwide, and in B.C. where he often performed.

"I think all of us were touched by Clark's life. He was so much more than a trumpet player and a musician," said B.C.-based jazz musician Alan Matheson.

Matheson, a good friend of Terry's, is organizing a special tribute concert next week in his honour. He spoke with Hot Air's Margaret Gallagher about the impact the 94 year-old icon had on his career.

How did you first meet Clark?

I met him through a friend of mine who was teaching band at East Stroudsburg  University in Pennsylvania. Clark was performing with a college band and was performing an arrangement I had written.

Naturally I had to come from Vancouver to see this. He, like me, really was a jazz historian so we had lots to talk about. That's where the friendship started.

So much of jazz history happened around him as well.

He was very aware of so many of the things that happened musically around him that he had almost total recall of these things. I asked him about people he played with or grew up listening to.

He could sing their solos or replicate their playing style. It was just amazing.

How did he inspire you as musician?

He had a beautiful sound first of all, and it was very much his own. He had his mentors but he didn't sound like anybody but himself.

On another level, his rhythmic ease at any tempo was a really big thing for me. He was such an expressive player.

Clark Terry's influence as a mentor was felt far and wide. What made him such a great teacher?

He was a generous human being. He always said when he was coming up, no one would show him how to do anything correctly.

I know he liked getting people excited about music. That was the key to his teaching ability. He took the whole person in when he was dealing with them.

Clark Terry was a legend around the world, but he had a direct influence in B.C.  What kept him connected to this place?

"He was good about keeping in touch when he was travelling. He felt so well received from the people in Canada not just Vancouver that he kept in touch with so many people because of that.

What do you think Clark Terry's legacy will be?

His whole approach to playing was heartfelt. When you hear it, you know it.

He always played from the heart in a very singing and honest way, but also with a technical skill.

More importantly, just his whole humility and sense of humanitarianism as a musician and a person. He modeled how to get people excited about music and instilled in others the desire to continue to improve musically.  

Alan Matheson's special tribute concert to Clark Terry takes place Tuesday, April 28 at Hermann's Jazz Club in Victoria, B.C.

To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Alan Matheson remembers Clark Terry

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