The legendary trumpet player and bandleader Dan Terry passed away Tuesday, December 27, at the age of 87.
The Kingston, Pennsylvania native first earned notice in L.A., while leading the Hollywood Teenagers Band. After relocating to New York in 1948 to play with Sonny Dunham, Terry’s band went into Birdland in 1954, playing there with Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, and others.
Also in 1954, Terry was signed by Columbia Records along with Pete Rugolo (Boris Karloff’s Thriller) and Les Elgart. That same year, he was featured in the Universal film short Birth of a Band, with Connie Haines and Don Gordon. He later toured with the Count Basie Band, Sammy Davis Jr., the Birdland All-Stars (with whom he recorded a concert album at Carnegie Hall), and others.
In the 1960s, Terry wrote music for and performed in the films The Hustler and The Manchurian Candidate, as well as serving on the music staff of TV shows starring Dean Martin and Jackie Gleason.
In the 1990s, he settled in San Diego, where he formed the Horns of San Diego and an offshoot, the San Diego Youth Swing Band, a group founded in order to give high school players an opportunity to perform scores from his archive of Big Band arrangements. He recruited the student players by hanging handmade ads around local music shops.
Featuring upwards of 20 young players, the San Diego Youth Swing Band musicians included trumpeters Igmar “Snooky” Thomas, alto sax player Nicole Bledsoe, clarinet player Paul Miller, trombonist Ginny Broersma, and drummer Mikey Cannon. Patrick Weill went on to minor in music at UCSD, as well as playing with Jimmy Cheatam’s UCSD Jazz Band and Buddy Blue.
In 1999, Terry produced the San Diego Youth Swing Band album Bein' Green, released on the Metronome label.