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Adjunct Professor Receives 2010 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award

By Lori Wright, Media Relations
February 3, 2010

Clark Terry performs at the Clark Terry UNH Jazz Festival, UNH Photographic Services.

Legendary jazz musician Clark Terry, who has had a longtime relationship with UNH and serves as an adjunct professor, was honored with the 2010 Record Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award Jan. 30, 2010.

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors lifelong artistic contributions to the recording medium. Terry received his award at a special invitation-only Grammy ceremony Saturday, Jan. 30, was formally acknowledged during the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards telecast on CBS Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010.

Considered to be one of the early pioneers to use a flugelhorn in jazz, Terry is a world-class trumpeter, flugelhornist, educator, and NEA Jazz Master. He has performed for seven U.S. presidents, and was a jazz ambassador for State Department tours in the Middle East and Africa. He has received two Grammy certificates, three Grammy nominations, 14 honorary doctorates, keys to cities, lifetime achievements and halls of fame awards. He was knighted in Germany and is the recipient of the French Order of Arts and Letters. Terry's star on the Walk of Fame and his Black World History Museum's life-sized wax figure can both be visited in his hometown, St. Louis, Missouri.

Terry's relationship with the university, begun and nurtured by UNH music professor and clarinetist David Seiler, stretches back more than three decades. In 1974, Seiler started the UNH Jazz Festival and soon afterwards landed Terry as a headliner. The jazz festival soon would become the Clark Terry-UNH Jazz Festival. And thus began a long and fruitful relationship.

Terry’s impact at UNH has been significant and according to Seiler, Terry has done more for jazz education with youth than any other musician. Tens of thousands of UNH students, high school and middle school students have had the opportunity to learn from him through numerous short residencies and visits to UNH. Many times, other jazz greats such as saxophonists Branford Marsalis, James Moody, Frank Foster, Frank Wess, and drummer Louie Bellson, accompany him to UNH.

The Clark Terry-UNH Jazz Festival has been an annual tradition at UNH, held every spring. Each year, the festival attracts jazz groups from 55-60 high schools and middle schools throughout New England and New York. Performing groups include high school big bands, middle school big bands, jazz combos, jazz choirs, as well as solo vocalists. All groups are adjudicated and given written and recorded comments.

This year, the festival will be held Saturday, March 13, and Sunday, March 14, and will feature the UNH Jazz Band, directed by Dave Seiler, and special guests. The concert will be held in the Johnson Theatre at 8 p.m. The line-up includes saxophonist and flutist Frank Wess, trumpeter Terell Stafford, and jazz vocalist Dominique Eade from the New England Conservatory.

Terry has led student tours of Europe and, in 1976, fronted the UNH Jazz Band that became the first college ensemble ever to play on an evening bill at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

"Montreux really put us on the map," Seiler says. "It also opened the door for others. The next year, Montreux began inviting college groups to perform in the evenings along with the big names."

In 1978, Terry received an honorary doctorate from UNH. In 1998, he was named adjunct professor of music. He is a recipient of the Charles Holmes Pettee Medal, the University of New Hampshire Alumni Association's highest honor. In 2000, David King, a 1978 UNH graduate, established an endowment for the "perpetuation of the jazz language" to bring musicians and scholars of exceptional reputation to UNH. The fund was named for Terry and Seiler. Terry, who will turn 90 this December, celebrated his 70th, 75th, 80th and 85th  birthdays with all-star alumni concerts at UNH.

Terry, whose career as a jazz musician began on a $12.50 trumpet purchased at a pawnshop, was, by age 20, playing with well-known bands. After a stint in the Navy during World War II, Terry joined the Count Basie Orchestra, and then Duke Ellington's as a featured soloist -- the only musician to perform at length with both band leaders. Courted by the Tonight Show, he joined the NBC orchestra, breaking the color barrier and becoming both a featured performer and TV personality. When the Tonight Show moved to Los Angeles, Terry stayed in New York City, recording and headlining national and international jazz festivals.

"Clark is on everything," Seiler says of Terry's prolific recording work. "You name them, and Clark's played with them. I am always amazed to listen to a new piece of music and hear Clark. His sound is unmistakable."

 


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