Trumpeter lived in Toledo
BY SALLY VALLONGO
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE
Dan Terry, a trumpeter, conductor, composer, and arranger who became a major player in the American big band music scene for well over half a century, died Dec. 27 after a brief illness in the VA Hospital in Danville, Ill. He was 87.
Born Daniel Kostraba in Kingston, Pa., in 1924, he entered the music business while still in his teens, first touring with George Summerson’s territory band, then moving to New York City to work with Muggsy Spanier, before entering the Marine Corps during World War II.
Post-war, Terry moved to Los Angeles, where he studied music at the College of the Pacific on the GI bill, and led the Hollywood Teenagers Band.
From 2005-2009 Terry lived with his son, Greg Kostraba, and family while Kostraba was classical music director for WGTE-FM91 in Toledo. “We went to see the Rusty’s Jazz Cafe Orchestra every Tuesday,” said his son, now station manager of WBAA-FM at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.
Sonny Dunham was the first in a long string of top musicians Terry worked with throughout his career. Other musical associates ranged from Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Les Elgart, the Count Basie Band, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin, among many others.
His first love was touring the country with his own band, playing on stages from college and university campuses to iconic night clubs such as the Trianon Ballroom in Chicago, the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, the Statler Hotel in New York City, and the Totem Pole Ballroom in Boston, to Carnegie Hall and the Tonight Show.
Through the 1970s Terry lived and worked in Las Vegas where, through his own business, Copyrite Music, Inc., he wrote, arranged, and prepared music for dozens of famed performers — Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Robert Goulet, Diana Ross, Lena Horne, and many others.
He composed music for films The Hustler and The Manchurian Candidate. Terry directed and performed music for Barbara McNair, Jackie Gleason, and Dorothy Hamill.
He also recorded 20 albums with his bands and others. In the 1990s, Terry returned to Southern California where he started the Horns of San Diego and the San Diego Youth Swing Band.
For 40 years, Terry also was a radio host in Las Vegas, San Diego, Middletown, N.Y., and Phoenix.
Also surviving are Anne, Lily, and Julia Kostraba, all of West Lafayette; daughter Jasmine Kostraba of Los Angeles, and sisters Margaret Cummings, of Princeton, N.J., and Georgette Ruzicka, of Olathe, Kan.
Larry Wagner, a jazz host for WGTE-FM91, will rebroadcast an interview with Terry on his “Portraits in Swing” show at 8 p.m. Jan. 14. Services will be held this spring in New Jersey. Memorial donations can be made to the American Legion Department of Illinois, illegion.org/index.shtml.