This item from trumpeter Mike Vax has popped up in various places on the web in the past couple of days. It is dated August 3.
I just talked with Gwen Terry. Clark Terry had surgery on his right leg to remove some blockage and the operation went very well. I will be talking with Clark tomorrow and will give him all the good wishes that I know will come from many of you. Please keep him in your thoughts and think good things for him. After all – any surgery at age 90 is a major thing.
Gwen says that Clark sends his best to all his friends and fans around the world!
That is good to hear. So is this.
That was at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland on July 14, 1977. The other musicians were Ronnie Scott, tenor saxophone; Milt Jackson, vibes, Oscar Peterson, piano; Joe Pass, guitar; Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, bass; Bobby Durham, drums. CT is the sole survivor of that group.
I wonder how many of his fans know about Terry’s crucial role in prodding New Orleans to pay proper homage to its most celebrated cultural figure. Here’s the story from the Terry chapter in Jazz Matters: Reflections on the Music and Some of its Makers. I wrote the piece in 1978.
Terry’s ties to the city have been more spiritual than personal, but his admiration for a New Orleans hero led to one of the most important gestures of his life. A few blocks from the Super Dome a monument to Louis Armstrong is nearing completion. It might very well not have been built without Terry’s inspiration.
New Orleans’s Armstrong Park has been a project of the administration of former mayor Moon Landrieu, who deserves full credit for paying tangible tribute to the city’s greatest artist. But impetus for the idea came in 1969 on a bus ride during the second New Orleans JazzFest. As a musicians’ tour was passing Jane Alley, Armstrong’s birthplace, Terry deplored the fact that while New Orleans seemed to have statues of half the Latin American presidents in history, there was none of the city’s most famous son. Then and there, he started a fund to commission a statue. His first dollar was symbolic. His organizing ability and leadership were much more. Nine years later, that statue is on the verge of becoming the centerpiece of an entire park dedicated to Armstrong’s memory. The park’s completion slowed in the six-month transition between Landrieu’s administration and that of Mayor Ernest Morial. But assuming Morial, the city’s first black mayor, gets behind the project, Armstrong Park should be the New Orleans equivalent of Copenhagen’s celebrated Tivoli Gardens and open by 1980.
Well, it may still be a while before the park is the US Tivoli Gardens, but it was formally dedicated on April 15, 1980 by Landrieu (then US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development), Morial and Armstrong’s widow Lucille. The statue of Armstrong is the centerpiece.
For more on Clark, including the story of how he became Buddy Bolden, see this Rifftides archive piece.