MUSIC - "Sweet" Sue Terry is an alto and soprano saxophonist,vocalist, songwriter and writer

ARTICLE   -   REVIEWS   -   Q&A  -   VIDEO

Sue grew up listening to Jazz from her father's jazz album collection. She later pursued the study of music while in High School, studying under pianist and educator John Mehegan. Her first big band music arrangement, for her high scool jazz ensemble, was written on a dare and a bet that she won with John Mehegan. The prize was an ice cream cone. Sue began her musical career performing at church functions and in musical theater at the age of 16.

Sue attended and graduated from the University of Hartford where she was a protégée' of the late great saxophonist Jackie McLean at the Hartt School of Music, and the first graduate of the jazz studies program he founded. She began playing jazz gigs while attending Hartt.

On the advice of Jackie McLean, Sue moved to New York City where she was a featured soloist with many bands. She performed with Charli Persip, Clifford Jordan, Walter Bishop, Jr and Jaki Byard. She also worked with music greats such as Dr. Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Al Jarreau, Chaka Kahn, George Duke, Barry Harris and many other Jazz VIP's like Art Blakey, Camen McRae and Wynton Marsalis to name a few.

Sue has appeared as a Jazz soloist with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and with the Brooklyn Philharmonic at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She has performed at numerous jazz festivals, at Montreux Jazz Festival, the Nice Jazz Festival, the Pori Jazz Festival, the Northsea Jazz Festival and the Blue Note in Tokyo and many more.


'Sweet' Musician Sue Terry Shows Literate Side

"Sue Terry, a master multi-instrumentalist, has been crafting well-turned, brightly burnished musical phrases for years, spinning soulful solos that tell stories in dramatic, flowing narrative lines. Fluent in the jazz lexicon, her expressive music recounts life's ups and downs, reflecting poetically on everything from tragedy to comedy, from agony to ecstasy."   ~  Read article by OWEN McNALLY, Special to The Courant, The Hartford Courant


Su Terry: Gilly's Caper (2006)

"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. "   ~  Read review by RUSS MUSTO on


DCB:  Probably a stupid question, but are you in any way related to 
Clark Terry?  Just to get that one out of the way.  With the last name of James, I know of a lot of James' but none are relatives to my knowledge.

ST: Clark calls me "Sis."  I call him "Brother Clark."!

DCB:  I have  been reading over a number of pages about you but there 
are still some things I don't see written.  Like when you first started studying music?  Was this before high school?  If so, when and what instrument did you first learn to play?  Since the first teacher mentioned was pianist John Mehegan, was the piano the first or one of the wind instruments?

ST: I started playing accordion at age 5.  We lived in Ohio at the time.  The music school said I was too young but my mother made them take me.  When we left Ohio four years later, the school said I was the best student they ever had--according to my mother.

DCB:  I read that you began doing Jazz gigs while at Hartt.  Where were you performing and who were you performing with at the time.  Are there any special performances during that time you remember.  Did you ever perform with Jackie McLean during this time?

ST: I played with a lot of the excellent local players like  Paul Brown, Norman Gage, Mattie Emirzian, Donny DePalma, Mike Duquette, Larry DiNatalie and Eddie Jones (former bassist with Count Basie.)  I began playing with guitarist Saul Rubin, a classmate of mine at Hartt, at this time, and we still work together.  I played with the late Thomas Chapin, another classmate and close friend.  Tom Murray was another classmate who is active in NY. Antoine Roney, Mark Berman, Mark Templeton.  There are so many, I can't mention everyone.  Other musicians I used to play with, who were not students but lived nearby-- Nat Reeves, Cindy Blackman, Wallace Roney.  And yes, I played with Jackie McLean many times while at Hartt.

DCB:  I see that you have written several music related books and are 
a noted educator.  When did you decide to begin writing about music.  Did this come out of your decision to also teach it?

ST: I've been teaching since I was in high school, so my books have been a logical extension of that.  The books, and my videos that I'm working on (see YouTube) help me to help many more players and students. I also enjoy teaching Master Classes, especially on the college level.  I'll be doing a clinic for the New York State Band Directors Association in August in Albany, and that will let my teaching concepts multiply exponentially, as the band directors pass them on to their own students.  This is how music takes over the world!
Also, I am the U.S. Jazz Consultant for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, the world leader in music assessments, based in London.  They have a terrific Jazz Program that I'm recommending to students and teachers.  A promotional DVD about it will be coming out this year.


Su Terry Double Rainbow (Live)

Sweet' Su Terry with Luiz Simas Qt @ Birdland (2013)

Su Terry at COTA JAZZ (2007)