Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rubber Ducks & Jazz

There are few musicians that I can say truly effect the heart of me.  As a musician myself, a student of jazz, there are only a handful that truly shaped my sound.  I've listened to, and loved, countless artists over the years but rarely have come across one who reached out with their sound to capture my heart.  Clark Terry is a very special man to me.  No, I never knew him personally.  I never even had the privilege of hearing him perform live but his music did profoundly impact and change me.

When I was much younger, probably 13 or 14 years old, my family and I ventured out in to the wilds of the annual Evergreen State Fair, which took place not to far from our home.  Being the 'grown up' that I was, I begged mom and dad to let me venture off and explore for a bit.  Mostly, I'm pretty sure my hormones were running rampant and I was looking for the cute ladies I went to school with, who also lived nearby.  As I continued to explore the cigarette and fast food perfumed fair grounds, I happened to spot the girl who I had a massive crush on at the time.  She was standing near one of those games where you toss a ball at a rubber ducky, or something, and win a prize.  In this case the prizes were CD's.

"Zach, you need a new CD for your vast collection of musical goodness." I thought to myself as I headed towards the, clearly rigged, game.  I paid the $2 it cost to play and began my first attempt, you got 3, obviously showing off my extreme manliness and dexterity.  After failing my first 2 tries, palms sweaty, I prepared for my last bid at winning her heart... I mean, the game.

I wound up for the throw, carefully aimed for the rubber ducky with the green hat, which would obviously earn me the most points, and launched that little plastic projectile at the poor, unsuspecting, inanimate, rubber duck.

Now what were the words I used exactly?  Oh... Right.  "NAILED IT!"
I quickly glanced around for the girl, who had been watching, only to find that she'd lost interest in my gladiatorial battle with the floating yellow menace and gone to get a scone, or something.

Being that I was a young student of jazz I thought it a good idea to further educate myself by choosing two records of that genre.  One of those was a Clark Terry album, which I quickly fell in love with.  Now, the vastness of my own personal CD collection at the time was sitting in the palm of my hand.  When I put on that Clark Terry record my growing love for Jazz exploded in my chest.  It's been said that his sound was the happiest in the genre and it became very clear to me that this sentiment is absolutely true.  His music literally inspired me to begin consuming as much jazz music as I possibly could.

On Saturday, Clark Terry passed away.  The world has lost an incredible gift in this man.  He has left behind an incredible legacy.

Thank you Clark for inspiring me to not only listen, but learn about the incredible art of Jazz.  You have forever imprinted my heart and mind with your joy, and music.

Here is a fantastic performance from Mr. Clark Terry: