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Sonny Clark

He began to study piano very early, and alternated those studies with those of the double bass and the vibraphone. In 1940 his family moved to Pittsburgh and seven years later, in 1947, he was already performing in front of the public, which he alternated with his theory studies with his brother.

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On the death of his mother he moved to Los Angeles and there he began to play with Wardell Grey, Teddy Edwards and Harold Land. Months later, his destination was San Francisco, where he became part of a group led by the double bass player, Oscar Petifford.

Between 1953 and 1956, he was part of the group of the clarinetist, Buddy de Franco, replacing Kenny Drew. In 1954, he had the opportunity to travel to Europe in that formation and when the contract with Buddy de Franco ended, he signed with the “Lighthouse All Stars” directed by the double bassist, Woward Rumsey, and in 1957 he arrived in New York as the singer’s pianist. Dinah Washington.

He recorded an album with the baritone saxophone, Serge Chaloff for the Blue Note label, and as a result of this collaboration he became a permanent musician for that label that hired him as a sideman.

The result was six albums under his name and having as recording partners the best of hardbop of the time such as: Hank Mobley, Art Farmer, John Coltrane or Paul Chambers, and a long series of recordings with Sonny Rollins, Curtis Fuller, Johnny Griffin, or Dexter Gordon among others. Victim, like many other musicians of narcotics, his activity had to be interrupted when he was admitted in 1963 to a New York Hospital with a severe lung infection. Temporarily discharged, a few days later he died of a heart attack when he was not yet 32 ​​years old.

Influenced by the maestro Bud Powell, Sonny Clark adds to the list of extraordinary musicians who died at the zenith of their career and when they still had an extraordinary career ahead of them. He had that very fast and frantic style that, with a continuous display of notes, linked in very original chords and resonances.

His phrasing was also reminiscent of that of the master Art Tatum, due to the use of multiple ornaments, and that of Teddy Wilson due to his refinement in ballads. Among his recordings, the following stand out: «Deep in a Dream» with Ike Quebec with all the songs composed by him.

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