By Patte Purcell
The level of talent I am blessed to work with never ceases to amaze me. Terry Wollman sat in at our VIP Afterparty Jam at the Riviera Hotel in October. He’s very impressive. Thanks to a referral from our keyboardist Greg Manning for the Celebrity Jazz Jam at Desert Willow, Terry is going to be playing at the Celebrity Jazz Jam in May. I thought you might like to know exactly who he is.
Originally from Miami, Florida, Terry’s first instrument was the guitar, which he picked up as a child. He then added piano, clarinet, and took his turn at drums. He finally settled on the guitar and played throughout high school. While living in Mexico for 6 months with his dad, his father bought him a nylon string guitar. Once he finished high school he decided to get serious about a career in music and entered Miami Dade Junior College studying music theory for two years. From there, he moved to Boston to continue his studies at the prestigious Berklee College where he received his degree in Arranging.
He (like many of the top artists) decided to move to LA in 1981 to become a serious musician. He toured with Billy Preston, was Music Director for the New Christy Minstrels, and worked in the studio with Joe Sample and the Crusaders (who were a strong influence on him) for 5 years. He did arrangements and assisted Joe on records and orchestrations. Joe inspired Terry and taught him the art of making records. Joe also introduced him to so many musicians that he still knows, loves, and respects. He also played with an African band, Brazilian artists and he immersed himself and absorbed all of it. This eclectic mix gave him a very wide base. Early on he was advised to ‘say yes’ to every opportunity and so he did, opening himself up to many different types of music.
In 1988 he produced and recorded his first CD, Bimini, which remarkably yielded 8 radio singles. From there Terry moved into the television business as the Music Director for the house band, Jack Mack and the Heart Attack, for The Late Show on the Fox network. He got the opportunity to work with Joan Baez, Weird Al, Frankie Avalon, Ike Turner, Grand Master Flash and more.
He then became the Music Director/Guitarist for late night talk show The Byron Allen Show. Byron was already a fan and Terry was there for 3 years. In addition to playing his own music, he wrote all of the arrangements for the musical guests. This gig focused on all of his skill sets as producer, music arranger, as well as performing and recording. He was truly in his element.
In the early 90’s, Terry became the music director for Wilson Phillips and put their tour together. He loved working with this pop group. This eclectic mix gives Terry the influence of all these different genres. He calls himself a ‘pop artist who also plays jazz’. He’s contributed to many TV shows including Scrubs, Felicity, and Desperate Housewives just to mention a few. He’s continued to make records for this entire period which has brought him to his latest CD, Silver Collection. This is a 25-year retrospective which includes recordings from his past and two new songs. The artists on this CD include Joe Sample, Gerald Albright, Abraham Laboriel, Keb’ Mo’, Mindi Abair, Michael McDonald, Dave Koz, Greg Manning, Luis Conte, Lenny Castro, and the late Ricky Lawson.
He just returned from his 3rd year as an artist on the Dave Koz jazz cruise which features the top artists in the industry. Terry also co-produced Melissa Manchester’s 20th CD You Gotta Love The Life.
I asked Terry if making CD’s is his favorite pursuit. He said that he loves being a producer, but he also loves performing live because of the immediate connection with his audience. He also loves arranging. He’s a multi-talented artist.
Recently, Terry was Producer/Arranger/Guitarist for a documentary about the vitality of people in their 80’s and 90’s, featuring the legendary Dick Van Dyke, who is thriving at 90 years young!
When I asked him about his goals he stated that simply wants to remain healthy, happy, and continue to make music. As a final message to his fans, he said, “Visit my website www.terrywollman.com. It’s the one stop place to find out everything I’m up to.”
We are thrilled to be featuring Terry at our May 16th Celebrity Jazz Jam at Desert Willow. He will be joined by 15 or more amazing artists and musicians. We can’t wait!