Sonny Clark Day

July 21, 1931 – January 13, 1963

Softly as in A Morning Sunrise

Pianist Sonny Clark was born on July 21, 1931 in Herminie, Pennsylvania.

While visiting his aunt in California, the 20 year old Clark began to play with various West Coast musicians like Oscar Pettiford and Buddy DeFranco, who he later toured with.

Clark became a Blue Note staple in the late ‘50s, playing for, among other hard bop artists, Donald Byrd, Grant Green, and Hank Mobley.

There the young pianist began working with musicians that would include Wardell Gray, Oscar Pettiford, and Buddy DeFranco.

He toured the U.S. and Europe with De Franco from 1953 up to 1956 when he left to join bassist Howard Rumsey’s “Lighthouse All-Stars.”

In February of 1957 Sonny Clark relocated to New York as an accompanist to singer Dinah Washington where he found steady work as a sideman and recorded frequently for Blue Note.

His best remembered albums include “Dial “S” for Sonny”“Sonny’s Crib” with John Coltrane, and “Sonny Clark Trio”featuring Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones all recorded in 1957.

Following Sonny’s January 1963 death from heart failure, friend and fellow hard bop pianist Bill Evans dedicated the composition “NYC’s No Lark” (an anagram of “Sonny Clark”) to him.

The number was featured on Evans’ 1963 LP release “Conversations with Myself.”

From the 1957 Blue Note LP release “Sonny Clark Trio.”


Sonny Clark, piano
Paul Chambers, bass
Philly Joe Jones, drums