Terry Trotter


Photo: Studio Without Walls


Terry Trotter has had a long and multifaceted career. "I grew up in Glendale, California. My mom was a fabulous pianist and, although not a professional, she could play anything. My sister, who is three years older than I, studied piano and at age four I started imitating what she was doing, so soon I was taking lessons too. When I was thirteen, I met Bobby Hutcherson and Herbie Lewis when we were hired for a high school dance. We then played regularly in Bobby's garage in Pasadena. I met Charles Lloyd when I was 15 or 16 when he was going to USC and he kind of took me under his wing, telling me who to listen to and criticizing my playing. The first concert that I played with Charles was at USC with a group that also had Scott LaFaro, Billy Higgins and Don Cherry! Music was always the most important thing in my life and I had a strong classical background, but after that concert I knew that I wanted to be a jazz musician."

Early in his career, Trotter gained a wide variety of valuable musical experiences. "I worked at the Lighthouse with Art Pepper for a year and a half, toured with Les Brown and played with Chet Baker and Joe Pass off and on for a couple of years. When I came back to Los Angeles after a tour with Lena Horne, Victor Feldman recommended me for the job with Miles Davis' group. Miles wanted me to come up to San Francisco to play with his group and see how it felt, but I had been through some negative experiences living the jazz life and I didn't want to travel anymore. Instead I decided to become a studio musician, a decision that changed my life because I spent the next 20 years in the studio. I loved getting a chance to play with the greatest musicians in the world even if I did not care for the constant pressure; you had to always be perfect and of course a lot of the music was not that rewarding."

Evantually Trotter returned to playing jazz more actively. "I decided not to get involved in the electronic world of the studios; I wanted to play more creative music. I used to sit in at Mulberry Street, jamming with Larry Carlton. Eventually I recorded with him and have toured with Larry off and on up to the present day. He lets me be myself in the contemporary setting without having to sound like someone else." In addition an active teaching schedule and recording a couple of clasical albums including 1985's Collaboration on Pausa with Charlie Shoemake, Bill Holman and Phil Woods. "Although I like some of the earlier records I was on, I really started playing differently three years ago and I think I'm a much stronger player today. I take a lot ore chances with my music than I used to. Clare Fischer told me years ago that I was too perfect in my playing. I've decided to let the perfection go in order to be more musical." Throughout his very impressive debut It's About Time Terry Trotter manages to be both.


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