Trumpeter Clark Terry, who was born December 14, 1920, in St. Louis, Missouri, was widely known for his role in the Tonight Show Band in the ’60s and ’70s (he was the band’s first black member), as well as for his longtime associations with bandleaders Count Basie and Duke Ellington. A brilliant improviser with boundless technical facility, Terry was also famous for his humorous antics on the bandstand, including playing his trumpet upside-down. But his most famous act was undoubtedly his “mumbles” routine, a distinct style of scatting that mixed nonsense syllables, grunts, noises and countless other forms of linguistic jibberish.
It was only natural that “Mumbles,” a track that featured Terry’s scatting prominently, would become his trademark song. Here it is from Terry’s Big B-A-D Band Live! album, which captured the titular big band at the Wichita Jazz Festival in 1974.