Sonny Clark

Conrad Yeatis Clark (Sonny) (July 21st, 1931 in Herminie (Pennsylvania) – January 13th 1963 in New York City) is an American hard bop piano player. Sonny Clark was an under-appreciated jazz musician of his time. His works are now much more well-known. Sonny Clark, a strong influence from Bud Powell, is well-known for his unique touch, sense melody, and complex hard-swinging style. Clark was raised in Herminie (PA), a coal mining community southeast of Pittsburgh. He moved to Pittsburgh at the age of 12. Clark, then 20, decided to visit his aunt in California and started working with Wardell Gray, a saxophonist. Clark traveled to San Francisco in 1953 with Oscar Pettiford. Clark toured Europe and the U.S. with DeFranco, until January 1956 when he joined The Lighthouse All-Stars led by Howard Rumsey. Clark, who was 25 years old, wanted to return to the east coast and accompanied Dinah Washington as an accompanist in February 1957. Clark was a comper and was frequently requested by musicians to be a sideman in New York. Blue Note Records was his main label. He recorded with many hard-bop musicians, such as Kenny Burrell and Donald Byrd. He recorded sessions with Charles Mingus and Sonny Rollins as well as Billie Holiday, Stanley Turrentine and Lee Morgan. His compositions are rare but the few that were recorded have gained a cult following, especially among Japanese jazz fans. He was a drug addict and died from a heroin overdose. Clark was a band leader and recorded the albums Sonny Clark Trio (1957) with Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones and Cool Struttin’ (1958). Sonny Clark Trio was released with George Duvivier, Max Roach and others in 1960. Text contributed by users is available under Creative Commons By–SA License. It may also be available under GNU FDL.

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