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Sue Terry

" She’s been compared to the great alto players like Charlie Parker and Phil Woods .Sue Terry exemplifies excellence with a commanding sense of swing and a burnished tone"
- National Public Radio

JAZZREVIEW: Tell us your earliest memory of jazz?

SUE TERRY: My dad’s record collection. He had a lot of classic sides like Modern Jazz Quartet, J.J. Johnson, Billy Taylor and many, many more.

JAZZREVIEW: Of the living greats who would you most like to play with and why? Same question for anyone you didn’t get to play with that is no longer with us.

SUE TERRY: I would like to play with Hermeto Pascoal and Yo Yo Ma, I wish I could have played with Astor Piazzolla and Miles Davis.

JAZZREVIEW: What is the driving force behind your creativity as a musician?

SUE TERRY: I hear beautiful sounds all around me and I want to make beautiful sounds too.

JAZZREVIEW: What was it about jazz/improvised music that attracted you to it?
SUE TERRY: I first really listened to jazz when I was around 12- I didn’t understand how it worked but I loved the beat.

JAZZREVIEW: Since jazz has evolved into various stages and genres, what is the most radical transition it has taken and what impact do you feel it had on jazz?

SUE TERRY: The bebop era was very significant; it expanded the jazz universe by extending the harmonic possibilities. Then Trane came along and found another modal dimension that we hadn’t known about. Then a couple of other spokes shot out from the hub: the pioneering work of Miles with his electronics groups, and movement to fuse other music’s with jazz like Brazilian, Afro Cuban, Tango, etc. Jazz is alive and well! I am in the midst of writing a book that explains Jazz music to listeners-stay tuned!

JAZZREVIEW: If you could attend one event in jazz history, where would that be?

SUE TERRY: How about, Duke Ellington at the Cote D’Azur, or Astor Piazzolla Central Park concert or Miles at the Blackhawk!

JAZZREVIEW: Gilly’s caper CD was a treat from start to finish, I especially enjoyed Gilly’s Caper single for its straight forward delivery, and the rich sound of your voice in the " Feel of Blues" I understand there is a story behind Gilly’s caper, would you share this with us?

SUE TERRY: It’s about Gilly’s mission to track down the infamous "Seal of Solomon" and deliver it to The Commanders. You can hear the story on
Listeners can hear samples of every song. If you click on "album notes" you can read the beginning of the story. Each song on the CD appears somewhere in the story, with the exception of one song, which is hidden on purpose.

JAZZREVIEW: You are both composer and musician; describe the balance between both of them when making music.

SUE TERRY: Since improvisation is "spontaneous composition", and any improvising musician is also a composer. I find the process of creating formal composition on paper, however, also makes me the better spontaneous composer.

JAZZREVIEW: Can you explain the difference between West Coast Jazz and the jazz that emanated from NY?

SUE TERRY: Life on the West Coast has never been as frantic as that on the East Coast, and that is reflected in its music.

JAZZREVIEW: You and Peggy Stern have performed on several occasions together and will perform again in March at the Palladium at Saint Petersburg College in Saint Petersburg. Tell us one of the memorable moments you have on stage together.

SUE TERRY: Every time we play together it’s amazing. We have an incredible musical rapport. We are both familiar with the formal traditions of not only jazz but also classical music; we both played a lot of Latin music, and we both dig free improvisation. We have a great time playing together and we respect each other’s musicianship. The audience seems to enjoy the fact that we are relaxed on stage, and endlessly creative. We also laugh a lot, musically speaking. What’s not to like?

JAZZREVIEW: What else can we expect from Sue Terry?

SUE TERRY: My next two recording projects will be very different from what I’ve done so far: a recording of solo wood and clay flutes called "Music for Tai Chi"’ and an album of keyboard music of mine that is spontaneously composed. As far as my book: the book I mentioned previously about how to listen and dig jazz will be out this year, as well as " Greatest Hits of The Blog That Ate Brooklyn", due out in April. I also write a regular online newsletter that covers all sorts of interesting subjects! People can subscribe for free, and read all the archives, at

JAZZREVIEW: What advice would you give a young aspiring musician coming into the music industry?

SUE TERRY: Study business and marketing. Stay ahead of the curve. Be true to yourself.

JAZZREVIEW: Thank you Sue for the interview and I look forward to seeing and hearing you on Saturday, March 20, 2010 at the Women of Jazz concert held at the Palladium at Saint Petersburg College.

If you are in the Saint Petersburg area on March 20th... This is a concert you don’t want to miss

A night of great jazz featuring " Sweet" Sue Terry , on sax, Peggy Stern, on piano, plus vocalists Rose Bilal and Theo Valentine, Anne Van Atta , bass, Sandi Grecco, drums, and Patti Sanphy on guitar.
Produced by the Palladium at Saint Petersburg College, the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association, and the Jazztorian.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Sue Terry
  • Interview Date: 2/1/2010
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