Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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CLARK, Sonny

(b Conrad Yeatis Clark, 21 July '31, Herminie PA; d 13 Jan. '63, NYC) Piano. Bud Powell was the definer of jazz piano; the brilliant young Clark simplified and personalized Powell's approach with a soulful drive, but died of a heart attack probably exacerbated by drugs. First of all- star series of LPs on Blue Note was quintet set Dial S For Sonny with Art Farmer, Curtis Fuller, Hank Mobley, Wilbur Ware, drummer Louis Hayes; Sonny's Crib with John Coltrane, Sonny Clark Trio with Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones; the session released as Cool Struttin' Volume 2 was a quintet again with Chambers, Kenny Burrell, Clifford Jordan, not released until later in Japan: all these were made in '57. Blues In The Night c'57--8 is by the trio, Chambers and Wes Landers on drums, again only in Japan; Cool Struttin' '58 is a quintet again with Chambers, Jones, Art Farmer and Jackie McLean, probably Clark's most famous album. Trio sessions '58 were released on several discs, finally compiled as Standards '98 on Blue Note. My Conception '59 is a quintet set with Donald Byrd, Blakey, Mobley, Chambers; Leapin' And Lopin' '61 by sextet Sonny Clark All-Stars, with Charlie Rouse on tenor, Ike Quebec on one track. Another trio set '60 was released on Time and Bainbridge, with George Duvivier and Max Roach; yet another, Sonny Clark Memorial Album on Xanadu, was made '54 in Oslo. Clark toured and recorded with clarinettist Buddy DeFranco '54- -5; the complete recordings on Verve, and Clark's complete recordings with guitarist Grant Green on Blue Note '61--2, were compiled in boxes by Mosaic. During the De Franco period he recorded Oakland, 1955: bassist Jerry Good and drummer Al Randall were the house rhythm section at Jimbo's Bop City in San Francisco and wanted to record with him, so Good taped the date at an Oakland club, now in good sound on Uptown: all Clark fans will want it. John Zorn, Wayne Horvitz and others play Clark's tunes in group/eponymous album Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet on Black Saint.