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Terry Disley

Terry Disley

Terry Disley

You've sat behind the keyboards for a very diverse lot of musicians... From Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), Paul McCartney and Bryan Ferry to Acoustic Alchemy. Can you give us a little perspective of how the experience has led you to where you are today?

I think it's made me a much more diverse musician and character than I would have been if I'd only specialized in one genre of music. I learned from both Dave Stewart and from Madness that entertainment and production, both live and in the studio, are very important to an audience. In the pop/ rock studio it's not so much about a great take of a performance from beginning to end. As a keyboard player it's more about creating the perfect musical parts or elements for the track - they are two very different approaches, both equally valid in their own right. My favourite quote from Dave Stewart - "why would they come and see your band?"

You call your jazz projects THE TERRY DISLEY EXPERIENCE, why is that?

It was actually a flippant remark by a bass player on my gig once when someone enquired as to the name of the band. We all thought it was hysterical at the time, but it stuck and these days I feel it does describe the group in that I am constantly changing tunes, always mixing it up and pulling rabbits out of the hat so to speak. I like to use different players and combinations, and to play new compositions with the group that they have never played at the shows. The audience feels involved when that happens. I'd like it to be an experience for them rather than just a jazz gig - where you never really know what's coming next.

Now that you've made tremendous inroads into Smooth Jazz as a solo artist, what's your plan to help move this genre of music forward?

That's a tough question as I don't have much optimism for the format to continue much longer as it is now. The audiences are dwindling, I think maybe because the same few acts play all the festivals and cruises and people are getting bored with the same thing all the time, especially in Smooth Jazz. Here comes 'so and so' jamming with 'so and so' once again. The programming of both live concerts and radio play seems to encompass maybe a dozen acts.

When I discovered Smooth Jazz with Acoustic Alchemy 25 years ago I found it a very exciting format. Musically it was much richer and fresher then. Coming to America with Alchemy & playing opposite Sanborn, the Yellow Jackets, Grover Washington Jr. etc. to big crowds - it was a real blast and that's why I moved over here. Unfortunately Broadcast Architecture and Clear Channel programming has killed the format and traditional radio has become somewhat obsolete and irrelevant. These days Smooth Jazz radio really has become 'elevator music.' The program directors and Disc Jockeys at your local stations have very little say in what gets played and it's becoming a situation where a single programming body will soon dictate the play lists to radio stations across the board. Therefore no new acts can get played and we hear the same old tracks again and again. We're at a point where it needs to re-form in a new incarnation - one where creativity is important once again.

As it stands right now, SmoothJazz.com and other internet based jazz websites are one of the only ways an independent Smooth Jazz artist can hope to get any exposure.

With my own recordings I entice the Smooth Jazz audience with groovy catchy tunes that fit the format, but then once they are hooked take them on somewhat of a deeper musical journey - at least that's my theory! I intend to carry on going deeper with each record and hopefully take some fans along with me.

You're officially a Californian (transplanted from England), living in San Francisco, is this a long term commitment?

You bet! Just look at the weather back there.......

We notice that you play a lot of gigs... what's more fulfilling for you as an artist playing live or writing new music?

I think my Music works in many formats though I detest labeling music, in regards of Smooth Jazz I'm glad the format recognizes the musical integrity I love incorporating good musicianship into the music but I also like a good beat as well.

What thoughts or feelings does the term "Smooth Jazz" conjure up for you these days?

Both equally. I learn a lot each time I play live but I love creating new music in the studio. That's the most exciting point - the purest point - when you create it. After that it's all show business.

List three of your inspirations and three of your favorite new artists.

Inspiratios: George Duke, Duane Allman, Vladimir Horowitz.

New Artists: Terry Disley, Hiromi, Eldar.

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