TERRY LOWER BIO
Pianist Terry Lower has been a fixture on the Michigan jazz scene for over 30 years. He is both a dazzling soloist and a superior accompanist. One listen to any of his performances on his Four Trios Vol. 1 and 2 CDs makes it immediately obvious that he swings hard and has great command of the keyboard.
Terry Lower was born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan. “My mother was a pianist who used to demonstrate sheet music in stores back in the 1940s. She started teaching me piano when I was six. My mother and I both played piano and organ in the Pentecostal church, my brother played trumpet and my dad sang and played guitar. There was a lot of music around the household and in our daily lives.” Terry played his first professional engagement as a solo pianist at the Hart Hotel for the Rotary Club when he was just 11. “I only knew a few standard songs by memory so I kept repeating those songs for a couple of hours at different tempos!” While in high school, he often worked locally with different jazz combos and played in the high school jazz band, even writing a few big band arrangements which were played at their annual “Band Follies.”
When he was 19, Terry moved to Boston to attend the Berklee School of Music where he studied arranging and composition as well as performance. After a year and a half, he discontinued his classes and centered on his piano playing, studying privately with Ray Santisi. Returning to Michigan, Terry continued honing his piano skills while playing at Bobby’s, the only jazz club in Battle Creek. It was not long before he started getting calls to work at other venues throughout Detroit, Southern Michigan and beyond.
Since that time, Terry has kept very busy as a greatly in-demand sideman as well as a featured soloist who has worked with many jazz greats who have come through the Michigan area. Among the many well-known artists who he has performed with are Benny Golson, Frank Morgan, David “Fathead Newman, Bobby Shew, Hendrik Meurkens and Kevin Mahogany. He also worked with the big bands of Jimmy Dorsey and Nelson Riddle, and has performed pops concerts with Eddie Daniels, Bernadette Peters, and Jennifer Holiday. Terry visited Italy on tours with singers Betty Joplin (2006) and Edye Evans Hyde (2008) and played 3 different stints on Carnival and Costa Cruise Lines. Having worked for over 25 years in the Detroit area as the main pianist with saxophonist Larry Nozero’s quartet, Terry wrote a lot of original compositions and special arrangements for that group and gained a lot of recognition in the Detroit area. That quartet also recorded many of Terry’s arrangements, including “Harlem Nocturne” at the Detroit-Montreux Jazz Festival. After hearing that recording, the song’s composer Earl Hagen sent a note to Larry to tell him that it was the most innovative arrangement of his tune that he had ever heard.
As a leader, Terry Lower recorded with his septet for 2005’s Step By Step cd, playing piano and contributing original compositions and arrangements, showing his impressive development as a writer and arranger. In 2009, Terry recorded 4 Trios, Vol. 1 & 2 with four different bassists and drummers, some of the best musicians in Michigan. It is the finest recorded showcase of his piano playing so far, featuring his brilliant playing on standards and his originals.
In recent times, Terry has been performing in Michigan at concerts, jazz clubs, festivals and recording sessions. He often plays with and arranges for his own trio and quintet. He has also been writing symphony arrangements for vocalist Edye Evans Hyde, who he has performed with for many years. The debut of some of these orchestrations will be performed at a concert in May, 2016 with Terry’s quartet, Edye and symphony orchestra.
When asked to name some of his inspirations, Terry mentioned the piano playing of Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock and Monty Alexander, and the writings of Horace Silver and Benny Carter. “Piano jazz trios are my favorite type of group to play in and I really like standards, straight ahead swinging and acoustic jazz. There are so many great jazz tunes and every song can be changed and played many different ways. I like to put my own twist and arrangements in the music and share the fun I have in playing this music with audiences.”