What do Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Bryan Ferry, Dave Stewart, Van Morrison, Bon Jovi, and Acoustic Alchemy all have in common? These are just a few of the pop and jazz icons that San Francisco based British jazz composer, bandleader and pianist Terry Disley has played for.
His new Terry Disley Experience CD, a collection of original compositions named London Underground features a mix of some of the best jazz musicians in the Bay Area. The music touches on techno, swing & contemporary jazz - all with an infectious propelling groove.
Talking about the new London Underground CD Disley explains –“Because of my varied musical background, the contemporary jazz scene never really embraced all I wanted to say musically, and now I’ve stepped outside the box a little, hence the variety of material on this new CD. I have always composed music for my own bands and know what I want from musicians.” As such, he has picked the best players around.
These days Terry is happily based in San Francisco. Why San Francisco? “I had discovered the City earlier when I played the Fillmore with ska-group Madness and then the Great American Music Hall with Acoustic Alchemy in the early 90’s – I just fell in love with it,” says Terry.
Terry’s luck changed when he became a member of the British jazz super-group Acoustic Alchemy through the 90’s, and as musical director for Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame. He subsequently played with a whole host of Rock Royalty, worked on 5 major motion picture scores, and opened shows for many jazz giants - including McCoy Tyner, Cedar Walton, Monty Alexander and Miles Davis.
“Although I was really into jazz at the time, I kept getting these pop sessions that paid a fortune. I’d play a huge session and sneak off to play a $50 jazz gig down the street. When Beatle George Harrison asked me to play at his 52nd Birthday Party I actually didn’t know any Beatle tunes – but I sure do now!
Terry moved to San Francisco in 1998. “I was in the studio working on projects with Paul McCartney and Bryan Ferry and got offers to tour with both the Eurythmics and Roxy Music in the same month. I turned them both down to move to San Francisco and play jazz piano. At first I think even my mates back home thought I was mad! I went from earning $1,500 for a three-hour session to $40 a night playing solo piano in San Francisco restaurants. "It was a crazy move but I followed my heart, and finally its working.”
Although Terry continues to be in demand, playing jazz remains a tough pursuit. There’s no such thing as a day off – it’s very intense - but very rewarding!”
REVIEW: SMOOTH JAZZ THERAPY JULY 23, 2008
The Terry Disley Experience - London Underground
Since keyboard player Terry Disley first caught the attention of Smooth Jazz Therapy he has delivered a succession of totally compelling, utterly original CD releases that have added considerably to the overall landscape of contemporary jazz. London born and San Francisco based he is now very much part of the bay area music scene yet perhaps is best known for his time with Acoustic Alchemy with whom, from time to time, he still guests. His latest release, ‘London Underground’ is everything one would expect from someone never afraid to push the jazz envelope and with eleven great tracks that are as good as they are varied the term ‘something for everyone’ has never been more apt.
The opening (title) track conjures up, for those who know it, the dynamic energy of the largest subway system in the world and as Disley takes the listener on a seven minute plus journey into the world of sophisticated contemporary jazz its Erik Jekobson on trumpet who really makes his mark. ‘Mind The Gap’ is another reference to London’s legendary transport system. This ultra jazzy genre bending number offers Disley the opportunity to demonstrate the sublime dexterity of his playing and he maintains this jazzy vein with the grooving mid tempo ‘Old And Funky’.
Jazz morphs into blues for ‘Slinky’ with which he really captures the atmosphere of a smoky Runyonesque bar-room while with ‘Hiding Out’ Disley allows the mood to turn a little funky. Bolstered by a big (sounding) horn section, this Tower of Power like smoker really hits a stride and elsewhere he bestows a genuinely cinematic quality to the feisty ‘7-30’. Having run the gamut from funk to blues and on to jazz, Disley allows this most appealing of journeys to take in a slice of gospel too where, helped in no small part by Charles McNeal on sax, he makes ‘The Hymn’ a real standout of the entire collection.
The Bob James like ‘Toy Town’ delivers smooth jazz of the highest order yet when all is said and done no one plays chilled out melodic jazz better than Disley. ‘Out To Sea’ is a great example of this art and he does it again with ‘Suite 920’ which is blessed with harmonica from Patrick Bettison that proves to be as excellent as it is surprising. However, in the final analysis the best track by some distance is the wonderful ‘Miramar’. Named after the Half Moon Bay venue at which Disley often performs this tranquil almost sexy tune is an absolute delight.
Either live or on disc Disley never disappoints. Check out his schedule at www.terrydisley.com