Renowned bandleader Dan Terry, Kingston native, dead at 87
by Bill O’Boyle
Legendary trumpet player and bandleader Dan Terry, a Kingston native, passed away Tuesday at the VA hospital in Danville, Ill., after a two-month illness. He was 87.
Born Daniel Kostraba on Dec. 22, 1924, in Kingston, he was the son of George Kostraba and Mary Wargo Kostraba.
He attended Kingston High School and studied trumpet with George Summerson at Wyoming Seminary. He is survived by two children, Greg Kostraba, Indiana, and Jasmine Kostraba of Los Angeles.
Greg Kostraba said his father worked with Summerson’s territory band in high school, then went to New York City and worked with Muggsy Spanier before entering the U.S. Marine Corps. After leaving the service, he moved to Los Angeles to lead the Hollywood Teenagers Band before returning to New York in 1948 to play with Sonny Dunham.
According to a biography of his father that Greg Kostraba posted on the Wikipedia website, Terry’s band went into Birdland in 1954, playing there with Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington and others. Also in 1954, Terry was signed by Columbia Records along with Pete Rugolo and Les Elgart, and that same year he was featured in the Universal film short “Birth of a Band,” with Connie Haines and Don Gordon.
Terry appeared in Carnegie Hall with his band for the Charlie Parker Memorial Concert along with Washington and a host of other jazz celebrities. He also toured with the Birdland All Stars in concerts at Boston Arena and Carnegie Hall as a featured artist with the Count Basie Band.
The Carnegie Hall performance was featured in a live album called “Birdland All-Stars at Carnegie Hall with Count Basie and Lester Young” on Roulette Records.
In the 1960s, Terry wrote music for and performed in the films “The Hustler” and “The Manchurian Candidate.” He also served on the music staff for Dean Martin and Hollywood Palace shows, six television specials with Jackie Gleason, Gleason’s recordings on Capitol Records and 12 albums with George “The Fox” Williams for CBS.
He also served as musical conductor for Sammy Davis with the Will Mastin Trio, Frances Langford, Noonan and Marshall, and Yma Sumac.
In the 1990s, Terry settled in San Diego, where he formed the Horns of San Diego and an offshoot, the San Diego Youth Swing Band, a group designed to give high school musicians an opportunity to perform his library of Big Band arrangements.
Terry worked as a jazz radio announcer for 40 years at radio stations in Stockton, Calif., Las Vegas, Middletown, N.Y., and Phoenix.
Terry is survived by granddaughters Lily and Julia Kostraba of West Lafayette, Ind.; sisters Margaret Cummings of Princeton, N.J.; Georgette Ruzicka of Olathe, Kan.