Venerable Enough for the Veep’s List


In an apparent effort to demonstrate his knowledge of pop culture, Al Gore’s presidential campaign staff recently disseminated a list of his favorite movies, books and recording artists. Long Island turned up on the music list in the form of Clark Terry, the well-respected jazz flugelhornist who lives in Glen Cove.

“I’ve been to his house a couple of times,” Terry says. “Did you know Tipper is a jazz drummer?” Perhaps she was drawn to the genre by the lack of objectionable lyrics.

Terry, a regular at White House functions since the Johnson administration, has lived in Glen Cove’s community of Morgan’s Island for five years. Before that, he lived in Bayside and Corona—an area of Queens that a few decades ago contained a who’s who of the jazz world. Horn players were there in force, with Terry, Louis “Pops” Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie all living within six blocks of each other, off Northern Boulevard.

“Diz would call me up and say, ‘Let’s meet on Northern and go over and bug Pops,’ ” Terry recalls. “We would go over and he would say, ‘Sit down, and I’ll give you the history of jazz.’ And he was the history of jazz. We used to go visit Pops to get our batteries charged.”

When the Tonight Show was broadcast from New York in the ’60s, Terry was a featured member of the show’s band. In that position, Terry became famous for “Mumbles,” a slice of gibberish he would sing, imitating incoherent, amateur blues singers whom he used to hear in his hometown of St. Louis. Terry, who played with Ellington for eight years and Basie for three, became known for singing, along with his horn-playing.

Over the years, Terry has taught jazz as an adjunct professor at many universities across the country. He has also amassed nine honorary doctorates. Entering teacher mode, he explains the difference between a flugelhorn and trumpet in terms that many Long Islanders can understand: “Your trumpet is your driver and your flugelhorn is your putter. You don’t drive with your putter.”


Ray Anderson’s new CD with his Pocket Brass Band is called Where Home Is. And while home for him has been Setauket for the past few years, the album could fool you into believing it’s been New Orleans.

He hasn’t completely abandoned the bop-slide trombone style of his idols, but this time, in his own style, he has returned to his first love of Dixieland, relying on that famous New Orleans sound of the second-line brass bands. “That music has always been the place where funk and swing meet,” Anderson says.

Anderson has always covered a lot of musical terrain with his slide trombone. His previous bands, with names like Slickaphonics, Alligatory Band and Lapis Lazuli, have blended Latin, R&B, funk, jazz and whatever else has come to mind. “The stuff I love keeps showing up,” Anderson explains. He even played free-jazz with avant-garde reedman Anthony Braxton before going out on his own.

A perennial winner of Downbeat‘s Critic Poll, Anderson infuses subtle wit into his playing, and his live show is filled with humorous asides and octave-spanning vocals. “I’m not the least bit into that Spike Jones slapstick-trombone sound, but the music doesn’t have to be too serious, either,” Anderson says.

A Chicago native who’s a city boy at heart, he settled in Glen Cove for peace and quiet and more room for his family. And for Anderson, who just returned from a three-week European tour, LI is the perfect place to come home to. “The city can be exhausting, but Long Island is beautiful and a good place to chill out,” he says.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 7, 1999

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