Do you know who Clark Terry is? Most young business students don’t. And that’s a real shame. Clark Terry, known by friends as CT, was an American swing and bebop trumpeter and a mentor to Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, and Quincy Jones. He played in both Count Basie’s and Duke Ellington’s bands and was the first African American to become a regular in a band on a major US television network as part of “The Tonight Show.” But most importantly, CT was an educator. CT’s love of educating young artists, “motivated Clark to organize other youth bands and influence many other jazz legends to teach with him at jazz camps, clinics and festivals at colleges and universities, while still maintaining a hectic performance and recording schedule for the next thirty years.” He was a true mentor: one who educated, supported and inspired.
CT is profiled in a moving documentary, Keep On Keepin’ On, along with Justin Kauflin, a 23-year-old blind piano prodigy. The documentary was shot over five years and gives an intimate glimpse of the mentor/mentee relationship between CT and Justin. Watching the film, you feel inspired. Here are a few quotes from the film I wanted to share:
- “Your mind is a positive asset. Use it for positive thoughts.” ~Clark Terry
- “You can’t do it the easy way. You have to do it the right way.” ~Clark Terry
- “Most important thing you can give a young musician: somebody believes in you. Makes you believe in yourself more.” ~Quincy Jones
In the words of the great CT—keep on keepin’ on! And, if you have some free time, check out one of the best trumpet players to ever live play his famous song, “Mumbles”.