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Clark Terry, jazz musician, dies at 94

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Jazz musician Clark Terry, famous for playing with both Count Basie and Duke Ellington, has died. He was 94.

Born in 1920, Terry’s career really took off in the 1940s: He played with Basie from 1948 to 1951 and then with Ellington from 1951 to 1959 before nabbing a spot in the Tonight Show orchestra—and becoming the band’s first black musician. 

On the Tonight Show, where he stayed from 1960 to 1972, Terry became known for his scat singing. He ended up showcasing this singing style in “Mumbles,” a track released in 1966 that quickly became a hit and one of his more famous works. 

Terry’s talents as a horn player and his overall contributions to the jazz world earned him dozens of awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award that he received in 2010. More recently, he was inducted into the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame in 2013.

Terry’s wife, Gwen, announced his death on Facebook Saturday evening. “Our beloved Clark Terry has joined the big band in heaven where he’ll be singing and playing with the angels,” she wrote. “We will miss him every minute of every day, but he will live on through the beautiful music and positivity that he gave to the world. Clark will live on in our hearts forever.”