Following an extensive nomination and voting process (involving WMJS members, former musician of the year winners and the WMJS board), Terry Lower was announced as the 2016 Musician of the year in early January.
Now in its 16th year, The Musician of the Year Award is a part of the West Michigan Jazz Society’s ongoing commitment to supporting and providing a platform for new and emerging talent. Since its first outing in 2000 the competition has established an enviable reputation for finding and recognizing outstanding musicians in West Michigan.
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.
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.
Terry has kept very busy as a greatly in-demand sideman as well as a featured soloist, working 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. Known for his ability to move effortlessly between jazz and classical music, Terry is renowned for his outstanding work as pianist in a variety of contexts.
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 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.
When asked to name some of his inspirations, Terry mentioned the piano playing of Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock and MontyAlexander, and the writings of Horace Silver and Benny Carter. “I love playing in piano jazz trios and I really like standards, straight ahead, swinging acoustic jazz. There are so many great jazz tunes and almost 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. I am both honored and humbled to be recognized as Musician of the year by both jazz lovers and my peers in the jazz world.”
"Jazz at the Harris"
by Robin Connell
West Michigan ‘Snowbirds’ missed an opportunity to hear live jazz every Wednesday, performed by a great lineup of regional musicians, during the months of January and February, when Jazz at The Harris occurred at The Harris Building in Grand Rapids [111 S. Division]. The building, primarily known asan Artprize venue and rental space, has a large ballroom on the second floor where the concerts were held. The Steinway piano, comfortable seating, and great acoustical space for... Read More