drawing of Su by SpongeBob animator Kent Osborne
"Su Terry has never been your typical jazz saxophonist.. Terry is one of the very few female horn players to achieve acceptance on the tough New York hard bop scene in the '80s."
–Russ Musto, All About Jazz
S U T E R R Y
SOLOIST ON SAXOPHONE, CLARINET, SHAKUHACHI • COMPOSER • AUTHOR • SPEAKER
Su Terry began her music studies on the accordion at age five. She first heard jazz music as a child growing up in Connecticut, where her father had an extensive record collection and she listened to jazz station WRVR FM non-stop. As a teenager studying with legendary pianist and educator John Mehegan, Su mentioned she would like to write a big band arrangement for her high school Jazz Ensemble. Mehegan bet her an ice cream cone that she couldn’t do it. She won.
By age fifteen she was playing professionally for church performances and musical theater. She began playing jazz gigs while attending the Hartt School music conservatory in Hartford. Though she was accepted as a classical clarinetist, her secret agenda was to study with the late saxophone legend Jackie McLean, which she did for five years. During her time at Hartt, in addition to performing and teaching she also hosted a weekly Morning Jazz show on WWUH FM. The Hartt School elected her Alumna of the Year in 2001.
Su has played and recorded with a variety of notable jazz artists including Dr. Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Clarice Assad, Charli Persip, Peggy Stern, Clifford Jordan, Melba Liston, Hilton Ruiz, Howard Johnson, Joe Lee Wilson, Irene Reid, Walter Bishop, Jr. , Rachel Z and Jaki Byard.
Her regular collaborators have included Tim Price, Vic Juris, Bill Goodwin, Tony Marino, Saul Rubin, Peggy Stern, Luiz Simas, Bob Cranshaw, Alki Steriopoulos and Jim Gala. She currently co-leads and performs regularly with the Ecuadorian group Jazz de Barro, as well as appearing as soloist with a number of different groups.
Su Terry has also performed with a long list of stars including Art Blakey, Carmen McRae, Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, George Duke, Wynton Marsalis, Barry Harris, Dr. John, Randy Brecker and Tony Danza, to name just a few. She’s been a jazz soloist with the National Symphony under Marin Alsop, the Brooklyn Philharmonic under Coleridge Taylor Perkinson, the Hartford Symphony under Gene Bozzi, the New York Pops and Florida Pops under Skitch Henderson, and the Orquesta Sinfónica Cuenca under Michael Meissner. She has performed worldwide at clubs and jazz festivals including Montreux, Nice, Pori, Northsea, Quito, Ottawa, Playboy, Montreal, Hartford and Trave. In 2013 she toured Ecuador for the U.S. State Department. In the States she's been a frequent performer at venues such as The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. Her discography currently contains over seventy recordings and she has received awards for her composing and arranging.
Su Terry is the former lead columnist for The Note. She is the author of several music instruction books published by Music Sales Corp. and distributed by Hal Leonard, as well as the narrative non-fiction titles Inside the Mind of a Musician and For The Curious, and many magazine articles. Her Substack is called Temple of Artists, and features weekly articles on music and culture.
Su’s other passion is for the martial arts–she’s a longtime practitioner of Qigong and Taijiquan and is a 9-time championship tournament gold medalist. She now specializes in combining music with her lifelong metaphysical studies.
Su has given many nicknames over the years. Some of them are: Sweet Sue, Blue Berry, Tiger, Mad Dog, Truth-Teller, Macha Pussycat and Badass. The others we can't mention due to FCC regulations.
"Su Terry on saxophone: one should almost say that this lady is born for her instrument. That relaxed, exalted playing! That rhythmic feeling! That improvisational skill! Simply extraordinary!" --Die Wahrheit Berlin, Germany
"She has a formidable musical intelligence. . . " --Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD
"She plays like Charlie Parker reincarnated! She smokes!" --Jazz Central Station
View more press and listener testimonials on the Su Terry official website: https://suterry.com