“Performing at the Kennedy Center's Theater Lab on Monday night, saxophonist Su Terry meshed so gracefully with the Billy Taylor Trio that she seemed like a seasoned member of the band instead of a guest artist with only a brief rehearsal under her belt.During a concert taped for NPR's "Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center," Terry displayed well-honed gifts for playing both alto and soprano in a variety of familiar but attractive settings. Her performances on alto, initially distinguished by a cool tone and fluid phrasing, quickly recharged the bop standards "Hot House" and "Star Eyes." She used the same horn to elegantly recast "All The Things You Are" in 3/4 time, to swing effortlessly through Frank Foster's "Shiny Stockings," and to underscore the bluesy swagger that was key to her interpretation of Horace Silver's "Sister Sadie.When she picked up the soprano on "Lullaby of the Leaves," it quickly became clear that she was drawn to a soulful, rather than strident, sound on the temperamental horn. Since the arrangements allowed plenty of solo space for Taylor and his trio mates -- bassist Chip Jackson and drummer Winard Harper -- Terry's contributions gave way to crisply executed and colorfully designed improvisations.”

- Mike Joyce, Washington Post 


“Saxophonist Su Terry Performs With The Hartford Symphony Orchestra November 21, 2010 By CHUCK OBUCHOWSKI

A nearly full moon shone brightly above Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford Saturday night. Inside, saxophonist Su Terry and members of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra were creating a beautiful, blues-laden reinterpretation of Art Pepper's "Winter Moon" project.Synchronicity, or very careful planning by (HSO Executive Director) Krisen Phillips?" Terry queried, after referencing the lovely moonlit backdrop for this beguiling performance.It hardly mattered; the marriage of 14 string instruments and Terry's passion-filled alto excursions proved to be a heavenly match. From the first lush strains of Pepper's "Our Song" to the boisterous rhythmic activity of "The Troubadours," Terry's show-closing original, the saxophonist glided, drifted and danced in the sonic tail winds generated by the strings.Drummer Gene Bozzi, artistic director of the symphony's jazz and strings series, added potent mallet work to the latter, which sported a string arrangement by pianist Walter Gwardyak. Gwardyak also contributed striking new arrangements for the six "Winter Moon" pieces. "The Troubadours," a tune Terry returns to often, appears in a stripped-down version with pianist Peggy Stern on their new "Art of the Duo" disc, released on Estrella Music.Winter Moon," recorded by Art Pepper in 1980, was never a best-seller, but the alto saxophonist was justifiably proud of his only session with string accompaniment. The music, taken as a whole, creates a romantic, slightly melancholic mood. Not surprisingly, Terry and company decided to intersperse livelier material between some of these pieces, producing a more balanced program.First up was Terry's swinging modal piece, "Gilly's Caper," played by the jazz quintet, without strings. After a brief, unaccompanied bass introduction by Rick Rozie, the Connecticut native cut loose with an ebullient sax solo, marred only by the difficulties of capturing amplified sound in such a cavernous venue. Bozzi's drum spot suffered a similar fate, but guitarist Spencer Reed somehow escaped those aural travails during his bluesy break.Reed, who lives near Terry in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, may not be familiar to Hartford listeners, but his musical camaraderie with the saxophonist added an exciting dimension to the concert. In fact, Terry and Reed performed an encore without assistance from the rest of the ensemble, serving up an exhilarating, amusing take on the classic Bobby Timmons tune "Moanin'." Their version featured a manic scat solo from Reed, and lighthearted audience participation in the form of a repeated "oh yeah" refrain.Terry also sang a couple songs. Her own "The Feel of the Blues," with its thematically apt "moan on a moonlit night" lyric and fresh string arrangement, offered some touching moments. However, Terry's vocals were eclipsed by the majesty of her horn playing. Before presenting an instrumental "Ol' Man River," the reed woman confided that she'd be thinking of Paul Robeson's famous vocal interpretation of the composition as she played. Her alto sax work demonstrated how well she conveys the spectrum of human emotions through her instruments.On Saturday, Terry switched to clarinet for the Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer standard "Blues in the Night," as Pepper had done on the "Winter Moon" sessions. Her solo was sublime, and her collaboration with the HSO strings was again rich and captivating, honoring the original Pepper rendition without resorting to imitation.” - Chuck Obuchowski, The Hartford Courant 


“Jazz at Lincoln Center's July Latin In Manhattan mini-festival opened up with a weeklong tribute to Tito Puente by the Hilton Ruiz Latin Jazz Ensemble featuring conguero Chembo Corniel, bassist Leon Dorsey, drummer Sylvia Cuenca and the distinctive horn section of trumpeter Lew Soloff, altoist Su Terry and tenor saxophonist/flutist Lew Tabackin.The group began the week's final set on Sunday, July 17th with the powerfully melodic New Arrival, a composition by the leader dating back to his 70s debut album. The horns wailed over the smoking rhythm section, soloing with inspired abandon, with Terry in particular impressing her veteran colleagues.Ruiz' solo was a model of measured construction, beginning tranquilly and gradually building in intensity until the pianist's incredible virtuosity had the audience screaming in amazement before the horns returned to the melody to introduce a Chembo conga solo that ended the piece. Terry was featured on a bluesy original that began with her recitation Red Haired Kid and included a lengthy acappella passage showcasing her formidable technique. Tabackin stepped into the spotlight for an impassioned reading of You Don't Know What Love Is, strutting from one end of the stage to the other, from playing for the bar to finishing at Ruiz' side near the piano. The set concluded with the full ensemble returning for the soulful Ruiz original, Sweet Cherry Pie.” - Russ Musto, All About Jazz--New York 

“Saxophonist Su Terry's second self-released album is a soundtrack of sorts for the accompanying short story from which the date takes its title. The music, a tale of international intrigue, is similarly worldly. The opening Terra Incognita (titled after a bar in the story) is a curious samba with Michael Rabinowitz's bassoon and T. Ice's percussion augmenting a first-rate New York quartet with guitarist Saul Rubin, bassist Leon Dorsey and drummer Vincent Ector. Desert Moon reflects upon a fictional night in Tunisia, with the leader's alto soaring over an exotic atmosphere produced by Ice's hadjini and Rubin's guitar effects. Terry plays the sultry songstress to great effect on "New Year, singing in a melancholic whisper to interject a film noir ambiance into the proceedings. "Seal of Solomon (the narrative's Holy Grail) is a pensive piece that showcases Terry's soprano sax and tastefully restrained solos from Rubin and Dorsey. The date's title track, its most straight-ahead song, is a modal tune somewhat reminiscent of "So What, with plenty of blowing room for the members of the quartet to show off their bop chops.The remainder of the disc, though not directly related to the short story, appropriately complements the music that precedes it. Waterwheel, an older Eastern-tinged Terry composition written for a tea ceremony, maintains the exotic mood, with Ector switching from trap drums to djembe and chekere. Perhaps the most ambitious track, Filigree is Terry's dedication to the late Steve Lacy. Opening dramatically with Ice's echoing gong, the powerful music utilizes shifting meters to create what the composer (featured on soprano) describes as ‘the aural equivalent of an optical illusion.’ Track Listing: Terra Incognita; Desert Moon; New Year; Toothless Soothsayer; Seal of Solomon; Gilly's Caper; Waterwheel; Filigree; The Feel of the Blues; For Arden.Personnel: Michael Rabinowitz: bassoon; T. Ice: percussion; Saul Rubin: guitar; Leon Dorsey: bass; Vincent Ector: drums; Su Terry: alto and soprano saxophone.” - Russ Musto, All About Jazz 


“I don't believe there is anyone playing better alto saxophone today than Su Terry." --radio announcer/ author Bob Bernotas.

"Su Terry is a forward voice in modern music. . .She has been universally recognized among her musician peers for decades as one of the most articulate players of the alto saxophone."--Tim Price, Saxophone Journal

"She plays like Charlie Parker reincarnated! She smokes!" --Jazz Central Station 

"Su 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--New York 

"This incredible artist wails out her soul to any and all who would hear -- as in, you know, really listen. This is playing where the music breathes as alive with breath as any vocalist can give you, even the best of them." --Michael Redmond (award-winning critic for Newhouse News Service) 

". . . Su Terry was the crowd pleaser with a fiery expressiveness that got the crowd cheering and urging her on. Her style had some of the angular inventiveness of Wayne Shorter, undercut by a bluesy edge that kept things down to earth."-- Michael Hotter, Greenville Press

". . . has a pure, burnished sound on each instrument . . .Technically, nothing seems beyond her reach, and her improvisations are consistently sharp and persuasive. . ."-- Jack Bowers, All About Jazz 

"Su Terry's 'The Troubadours', a polyrhythmic feast for the ears, is the most ambitious and impressive tune of the set."-- David R. Adler, All Music Guide

"Terry performed in the contemporary, progressive role that the new woman in jazz is demanding."-- Amsterdam News, New York

"Su Terry's work on the Billie Holiday medley Strange Crazy Heartache suggests that she has a formidable musical intelligence; her solo statement catches something of Lady's voice."-- Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD
"Su Terry possesses a truly individual voice . . . she is especially compelling."-- Cadence Magazine 

"Su Terry . . . Superwoman of Jazz."-- Hartford Courant

"The roaring Charli Persip Superband . . . closed the weekend with highlight after highlight, including the debut of superb alto saxophonist Su Terry's suite on Billie Holiday tunes."--Len Dobbin, Montreal Gazette 

"The most eloquent and elegant solo of the double-header, though, was played by Su Terry. . .her chorus on a Jordan composition filled the park with a remarkably big, billowing, bitter-sweet tone poem that was the emotional high point of the night."-- Owen McNally, Hartford Courant 

"Su Terry, who crafted the stunning arrangement, offers a statement on alto that reaches into one's soul."-- W. Royal Stokes, JazzTimes • "I'm presenting some very talented young musicians who in my estimation are budding superstars, especially Su."-- Charli Persip in JazzTimes 

". . .nor can too much be said about the youngish and loving way in which Su Terry saluted Charlie Parker, playing with the passion that sent some of the band's reed players back to the shed when they realized they would have to work next to someone so intent on firing from the heart every chance she got."-- Stanley Crouch 

"Su nailed it! "--Paquito D'Rivera 

"She's been compared to the great alto players like Charlie Parker and Phil Woods. . .Su Terry exemplifies excellence with a commanding sense of swing and a burnished tone."--NPR 


“All my life, my background has been Classical music which I love. Su Terry's musical performance has opened a whole new world to me. Her high standard, her virtuosity, imagination and sensitivity have me ask for more. Thank you!” - Gertud Raemisch-Schumm 


“Around ten years ago, at a small dinner party thrown by my friend and mentor, Edie Eustace, I had the pleasure of meeting Su Terry, a composer and Jazz saxophonist, who does a rather remarkable thing with poems: she sets them word for word, actually, often syllable for syllable to note values. The word 'value' is important here. Su has both a composer's sense of structure, and a jazz improviser's sense of immediate invention, so we are getting a professional composer with major league chops doing a close reading of a poem. In this case, it was Hurt Hawks by Robinson Jeffers (A poem you ought to know, and if you don't shame on you). Su Terry also reads poetry, writes it occasionally, and came at the poem in a fresh way, unsullied by pretensions as to its purity. She had made copies of Hurt Hawks and handed them out (this was after dinner as we all sat in Edie's very comfortable living room) Since I had memorized the poem many years ago, I only had to glance here or there at what was now the score. I am a decent pianist, not great. I taught myself to play by ear, and spent most of my youth composing songs, fake Bach pieces, mock Chopin. I have some talent for composition, and for making out of tune pianos sound good. At one point, I made a very precarious living playing piano in a couple bars, one of which was run by a coke fiend who had a driver pick me up for the gig three times a week. The driver turned out to be a rapist. So I know a good musician when I hear one–not just a chops specialist, not just a technician, but someone who can bring out whatever serves the music, whose improvisations add to it, whose sense of creativity is not just a form of showing off runs. Su Terry was on this order. She was not just playing a musical tribute to a poem she loved; she was reading, literally reading the score of that poem as her audience read along with her word for word, syllable for syllable, and unlike many collaborations between music and poetry that was written with no music in mind, this worked. It did more than worked. For a good month after the dinner party, I would take out Robinson Jeffers' great poem, and sit, recalling whatever I could of Terry's lines. Her musical setting, or rather her musical Reading of the poem had a profound and lasting effect on what I knew could be done with music and poetry. Let me be blunt: most collaborations between music and poetry hurt both the poem and the music. There are several reasons for this: 1. Poets, unlike band members are rather timid about being thought entertaining. They don't perform. Ah, but Su was not performing that day, she was living in intimate relationship to the poem. She was reading it. So let's go a little deeper: most poets do not truly read their poems, not closely. They stand up there rehashing them, failing to enter their own text. Reading out loud is a hybrid art between the public barbaric yawp and the secret utterance. This means a poet must find a ceremony somewhere between being alone in his or her consciousness, and projecting that consciousness outward like a prayer. It does not have anything to do with being introverted or extroverted, friendly, or taciturn. It is all about destroying those distinctions so that the compound of intimate consciousness and public performance becomes presence. Now, many people who fancy themselves experts on reading or playing and cannot apprehend true presence, but, most people, who are not arrogant about their expertise, know when they encounter it. I watched a group of bored teenagers at the last Dodge festival be transformed in an old Baptist church by the presence of Marie Ponsot. It was not long after her stroke. Her voice was clear, but weak. She had to pluck her words slowly from the tree of consciousness. She was everything you might think would be a nightmare to young students committed to being bored, but she created a presence. It did not patronize. It did not play to the cheap seats. It blew, and the spirit of its breath gave something greater than entertainment: it gave welcome, on its own terms, without stooping. This is the reason most poets stink at performing with musicians. It does not matter if they are as extroverted as Al Jolson (think Bly on a bad day) or introverted: they are not present. This is more egregious than failing to perform. Billy Holiday did not perform. Lester Young did not perform. When they did perform, it was to serve the presence, not to replace it. Without presence, you can walk the bar all you want, and the vulgar will mistake this for true worth, but you will hurt both the music and the poem. 2. Poets who read to music, often don't know music well enough to interact with it. We all think we know music, and it's true, but knowing it and interacting with it are very different. I once asked a musician friend of mine why he was so in love with Count Basie's piano playing. He conceded that Art Tatum had far greater skills, but his fantasy was to be alone in a bar and have the ghost of Basie come and play. He said: 'Art Tatum could play more notes, faster, and better than anyone with the possible exception of Jesus of Nazareth, but the Count sat out. He knew how to sit out. He knew what not and when not to play, and if you could hear his sitting outs, you'd realize they were the equal of Tatum's sitting ins.' Poets, if they are going to perform with bands, need to work more on sitting out than anything else. How do I allow the music to enter, and when do I blow? What's the ratio? If I'm reading to a blues piece, how can I give propers to the 12 bar blues with my free verse structures? How do I go in and out of the beat, vary my speeds, enter in such a way that people are not just hearing my poem over the music, but are hearing my poem within the music? How do I sit out? A poet bad at this is like a lounge singer. Sometimes, the musicians just play the changes and pretend he or she is not there. It's important, if you are going to read poems to music, to learn when to shut up. You need to know where the words and the music could come in together without either being diminished. This takes practice, as much practice as it takes to learn the writing of poetry or the playing of an instrument.. 3. Poets are often both snobs in the wrong way (My poems are too perfect to be done with music) and egalitarian in the wrong way (I want to be a friggin' rock star). An audience does not like a snob (unless it is full of snobs). An audience also dislikes slavishness. I thought spoken word was much better when the slam artists didn't memorize their texts. I liked the tension between reading it yet performing it. Now I see a bunch of actors up there, doing what actors do–especially bad actors. I can't go to a slam without getting angry, and I have a terrible Irish temper. I sit there thinking : If you touch your thorax, then put your arms out one more time to show me how sincere you are, I'm going to slit your throat with the sharp edge of a judge's card. I am not a page poet, but I believe in the page. A body that is trained to not be itself is not a body. Good performers use their flaws, not just some template of a body work shop. I believe poets can benefit from reading to music, even if they won't do so in public, just to find a presence in their voice–something beyond either the idiocy of academics who want to down play all performance, and the idiocy of slammers who don't understand the difference between presence and performance. What's the difference? Listen to Count Basie or Billy Holiday or Lester Young. The difference is the whole of the sky.” - Joe Weil, The Poetry Blog


“. . . Su Terry and Dangerous Sax took the stage. The group consisted of Su Terry on soprano saxophone, Nelson Hill on alto saxophone, Bob Keller on tenor saxophone, and Tom Hamilton on baritone saxophone. Ms. Terry is well known not only for musical talents but also for her mischievous approach to presenting the pieces she selects. Both were quite evident in her performance which endeared her and the entire set even closer to the audience’s hearts.” - Paul Smeltz, The Forwardian 


“Monday, May 23, 2011 • The Sweet Sounds of Su Terry • “This past weekend, I went to the Kennedy Center’s 16th annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. I love going to hear music at the Kennedy Center. I think it is one of the greatest venues for music. Just amazing acoustics and music-lover-friendly theaters! One of the featured artists was someone whom I had never heard before. She performed with Peggy Stern (piano) as a duo. All I can say is that both of them were just so COOL. Su Terry played the alto saxophone as well as the clarinet on the tunes they performed. I just loved it! Su’s music was indeed sweet and she and Peggy had a sweet sisterly vibe that was really refreshing and made me smile. By way of a brief background, Su Terry is a protégé of jazz legend Jackie McLean. She hails from Hartford, Connecticut and settled in New York in 1982. In addition to Jackie McLean, her mentors included Dr. Billy Taylor, Barry Harris, Clifford Jordan and Junior Cook. Su has performed the world over and with numerous other jazz musicians such as Wynton Marsalis, Lew Tabackin, Art Blakey and Carmen McRae, to name a few. Her discography totals over 40 CDs and, as a devoted music educator, she has authored several music instruction books. When she played at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz festival on Saturday, it was so abundantly clear that this woman loves what she does. She had a genuinely friendly and joyful affect when she interacted with the audience as if we were all old friends hanging out in her living room. The way she played was crisp and precise yet soulful, humble and relaxed. Both she and Peggy cheerfully shared the stories behind their compositions. Sue had the perfect balance of technical agility and passionate flow. Her ability to improvise and communicate through her instrument is extremely special. She seems to connect with her instrument like very few people do. Su, I am glad to have met you!" ” - Nicole W. Sitaraman, Jazz Virtuosa blog