Press Kits: BLUE NOTE, VERVE
Jacky Terrasson (Blue Note) (70K GIF)
Nicholas Payton (Verve)
Chicago, IL..........Jazz Showcase/Blackstone Hotel......3/5 Feb St. Paul, MN.........Dakota Bar and Grill..................6 Feb Los Angeles, CA......Troubadour...........................14 Feb San Diego, CA........Horton Grand Hotel...................15 Feb Cambridge, MA........Regatta Bar/Charles Hotel............19 Feb Pittsburg, PA........The Shadyside Balcony................25 Feb Washington, DC.......Blues Alley..........................28 Feb
"I'm at a very important stage in my eareer," Jacky Terrasson confides. "I've played with some great masters, but now it's time tor me to do my own thing, tour with my trio and show the world what we ean do." The 29-year-old pianist - who vaulted to the front ranks of the international jazz seene in November 1993 after winning the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition - doesn't have to rely on words to convey the confidence he's feeling at this period in his life, however. His music, showcased brilliantly on Jacky Terrasson, his U.S. recording debut, speaks quite eloquently for itself.
Born in Berlin on November 27, 1965, to French father and a black-Ameriean mother, Terrasson's life experiences, development as an artist and distinctive piano style all reflect the fact that he's a product ot both Old and New World cultures. His awesome technique, acquired in the conservatory environment ot a high school tor the performing arts in Paris, helped lay the foundation for the impressive improvising and arranging skills he honed during two semesters spent at the Berklee School of Musie in Boston. The dues he paid playing dives on the North Side of Chicago and late-night jam sessions in Harlem or the East Village paid off later when he enrolled in the jazz equivalent of graduate school by joining ensembles led by such influential jazz mentors as drummer Arthur Taylor and vocalist Betty Carter. Terrasson's fluctuation between the formal and tree, between the traditional and the modern, define the dynamics that characterize his sound and set him apart from other members of his generation.
Terrasson grew up in Paris and began elassieal piano studies when he was tive. At 12, he diseovered the musie ot Billie Holiday, Nat 'King' Cole, Duke Ellington and other jazz greats in his mother's reeord eollection. "As soon as I heard jazz I telt closer to it than to classical music," Terrasson recalls. "I was already experimenting with boogie-woogie, the blues and playing stuff that wasn't written down and suddenly realized that, while there's room for interpretation in classical music, there's more treedom of expression in improvisa- tion. You can take a song and truly make it your own."
At 13, Terrasson started studying jazz with Jeff Gardner, an expatriate American in Paris who was an early influence on the young pianist, introducing him to "turn arounds, 2-5- 1 chord relationships and other basics." Terrasson enrolled in the Lycee Lamartine, which he compares to the high school in the movie Fame, when he was 15. His mornings were spent on academics and his afternoons on private lessons devoted to music theory, ear training and the history ot classical music.
At Lamartine he also met Stephane Paudras, a fellow student of Gardner, whose father, Francis, would be the next person to nurture Terrasson's passion for jazz. "Stephane told me about his father, about how he'd hung out with Bill Evans and took care of Bud Powell, two of my idols," Terrasson recalls. "I used to go over to their apartment and spend hours exploring Francis's immense collection of jazz films and recordings." The movie Round Midnight is based on Francis Paudras's experiences with Powell, and when it was filmed in Paris, Terrasson not only got to meet Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock and Bobby Hutcherson, but was an extra in the film as well.
Paudras was one of the people encouraging Terrasson to apply to Berklee and the pianist fondly remembers the year he spent on a scholarship in Boston as important for both the experiences he had and the connections he made there. "At the time, coming from Paris, it was unusual to meet someone my age who was interested in jazz, let alone studying it," he explains. "When I got to Berklee, I was immediately inspired because everybody around me was totally into the music." Terrasson's classmates at Berklee included Javon Jackson, Danillo Perez, Delfayo Marsalis and Dennis Carroll. "Dennis is from Chicago and we became good friends. He told me he'd get us a gig playing five days a week at this club called Blondies on Rush Street if I'd come home with him. I decided to take a chance and just do it. I packed, called my parents and went. I'm glad I did because I learned three times faster than in class since I was on the spot on stage all the time and had to playPB
After his stint in Chicago, Terrasson returned to France to fulfill an obligation to the French army that kept him away from the keyboard for a year. "I had to do it," he explains. "After I got out, I lived in Paris and played clubs and summer festivals in France and the rest of Europe for three years." During this period Terrasson went on the road three times with Ray Brown's Two Bass Hits Featuring Pierre Boussaguet & Jacky Terrasson, spent six months as singer Dee Dee Bridgewater's pianist and worked with tenor saxophonists Guy Lafitte and Barney Wilen. "Barney was a Jazz Messenger who played on Miles Davis's soundtrack to Escalator to the Gallows, Louis Malle's first film which launched the New Wave movement in French cinema," Terrasson, an avid film buff who is very interested in scoring a film, says excitedly. "It seems I'm always on the road but at least I get to read a lot of literature when I travel. When I get home and have a minute to catch my breath, I relax by going to the movies and get some exercise working out on my roller blades."
Terrasson moved to New York City in 1990, intent on making a name for himself where it counts, and entered a crucial phase- in his career. "I was one of the musicians to participate in after hour jam sessions at Augies, a jazz club in Harlem which had this beat up Fender Rhodes. We played for the door by passing a basket around," Terrasson recalls. "Solid players who didn't have gigs of their own yet played there and that's where I met Jesse Davis and Antoine Roney who later asked me to play on their debut records. I also ran into Tyler Mitchell, whom I met in Chicago, again and he introduced me to Arthur Taylor who was looking for a pianist." Terrasson performed and recorded with Taylor from mid-1991 through 1992, and made his first recording, a quartet date with Antoine Roney, Clarence Seay and Cindy Blackman on the French label JAR, during the summer of 1992.
1993 would prove to be a watershed year for Terrasson: He won the Monk Competition, debuted his trio on a recording for the Japanese label Venus and met another major influence in his jazz journey through Javon Jackson, whom he knew at Berklee a decade earlier. "Javon asked me to play on his Blue Note debut produced by Betty Carter," Terrasson recalls. "I met her at during the recording sessions and one day she told me she was going on tour and needed a pianist the next day. She asked me if I was interested and said I had to tell her that day. When she came back I said yes and ended up spending eight months with her. I learned a lot about space and where to play - that music is also about "not" playing - backing her up on ballads."
The trio which Terrasson formed in mid-1993 with bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Leon Parker, two other veterans of Augie's late night scene, displays a fearless command of its craft on Jacky Terrasson. The recording features three Terrasson originals and interpretations of Bye, Bye Blackbird, My Funny Valentine, I Love Paris and five other standards. "I like to take a standard and revive it while messing with it at the same time," the pianist explains. "Some of these tunes were written 40, even 60, years ago and have been played by generations of great jazz musicians. There's really no point in covering standards if you're not going to make them sound fresh or new, and I get a kick out of disguising them, while staying true enough to the original so people who hear them can still recognize them. A lot of our arrangements come from live performances that were so hot, we decide to keep them." Terrasson confides that composing is a different story. "Sometimes it's like this," he says, snapping his fingers, "and at other times it can take months to write tunes. But if I've learned one thing in life, it's that you can't force yourself. You've got to go with the flow.
Nicholas Payton's music career began much as jazz itself did, marching in New Orleans street parades. His playing reflects that. But just as jazz has expanded beyond its New Orleans roots and dancing rhythms, this 2 l-year-old trumpeter has also expanded, embracing and mastering jazz styles as varied as those of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis.
"I'm not necessarily focused on one specific style of the music," Payton says. "I just want to be free so that at anytime I can play standards, my own original music or some more obscure tunes in the jazz repertoire. Right now I'm still developing. I'm just gathering all these ideas, all of these influences that I have had over the years and bringing them together."
Payton's love affair with the trumpet began when at age 4 he requested the instrument as a Christmas present. Between the influence and assistance of his mother, Maria (a classical pianist), and his father, Walter (a renown New Orleans bassist), Nicholas developed quickly. Even before he could read music, he had developed his ear to the point that at age 9 he was accompanying his father on gigs with the Young Tuxedo Brass Band.
"The first steady traditional band that I played with was a group called the All-Star Jazz Band," Payton recalls. "It was just a bunch of kids-I was about 12-but we played around New Orleans and even at some jazz festivals in Europe."
It was about that time that Wynton Marsalis first heard Payton play, via an unsolicited phone audition. The older musician had called to speak to Payton's father, but once Nicholas realized who was on the line, he began playing his trumpet. Impressed, Marsalis has taken a personal interest in Payton's development, sending him tapes to study and recommending him to such band leaders as Marcus Roberts and Elvin Jones.
"Nicholas is a great musician, who was very serious about learning and developing all aspects of jazz musicianship," Marsalis says. "He has tremendous talent and a work ethic that matches that talent. This is a rare combination which insures originality fundamental to jazz expression."
"I wanted the record to be a total presentation of where I am musically," the 21-year-old trumpeter says. "I'm not necessarily focused on one specific style of the music. I want to be free enough so that at anytime I can play standards, my own original music, or some more obscure music in the history."
While such Payton originals as "Beginning of the End" and "The Sleepwalker" are totally modern in their arresting harmonies and abstract melodies, this young trumpeter also tips his hat to such ageless masters as Harry "Sweets" Edison and Doc Cheatham in his rendition of 'Yaking a Chance on Love." The classic "You Stepped Out of a Dream" sounds like a new composition thanks to the unexpected dose of New Orleans street beat in its background. And "Young Payton Blues," makes clear that age aside, this man is very much at home playing the twelve-bar form which is the basis for all jazz.
Accompanying Payton are several of the best musicians on the scene today: Mulgrew Miller on piano, Reginald Veal on bass, Lewis Nash on drums, Mark Whitfield on guitar, and Monte Croft on vibraphone.
The unusual combination of these instruments accounts for much of what distinguishes the sound of "From This Moment". However, the main force responsible for the freshness and excitement this Verve release generates is Nicholas Payton, a trumpeter and bandleader about whom and from whom we can expect to hear much.