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Catching Up With…

Terry Silverlight

by Jeff Potter

Terry Silverlight has covered vast territory as a drummer and composer for recordings, television, and film. As a sideman, he recently played on vibraphonist Dave Shank’s Soundproof, pianist Ted Brancato’s The Next Step—featuring bass great Ron Carter—and Bolero by the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra, with which he recently returned from a tour of Japan. He wrote music for the upcoming film Two Nations. And his work on Billy Ocean’s latest, Here You Are, marks a fond reunion, as Silverlight played on a number of the singer’s ’80s hits, including “Suddenly.”

Silverlight has also released more than half a dozen solo albums in both the jazz and pop idioms. Of his latest venture as a leader, Terry says, “The operative word I kept in mind was different.” To that end he took on the challenge of playing with a single guest on each track. The result is an engaging, diverse, and joyful disc titled, simply, Duets.

“The very fact that I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off and didn’t know where to start is what prompted me to sit down and make a game plan,” says Silverlight, who brought in some of his favorite musicians, including organist Paul Shaffer, bassist Will Lee, tenor saxophonist David Mann, alto saxophonist Aaron Heick, electric guitarist John Hart, vocalist Tabitha Fair, trumpeter Vinnie Cutro, pianist Tom Jennings, acoustic guitarist Jeff Ciampa, and bassist Mike Hall.

MD readers will be especially delighted with “Lang Hang,” Silverlight’s duet with legendary classical percussionist Morris “Arnie” Lang, who performs on timpani and assorted instruments. “I studied with Arnie when I was nineteen or twenty years old,” Silverlight says. “I’ve always admired him.” Another unexpected collaborator? Mother Nature—more specifically, some birds in Silverlight’s backyard.

The album is impressive in its balance of preparation and improvisation. Silverlight’s intuitive compositions lend a specific color to each track, to best complement the guest players. “I wanted to make sure that the playing wouldn’t get in the way of the composition—getting too noodle-y—but also that the compositions wouldn’t inhibit spontaneous playing,” the drummer explains.

What most surprised the adventurous Silverlight while diving into Duets? “That everything was working!” he says with a laugh. “I’m not surprised that everyone played well. But when I heard what they played, I guess you could call it a surprise. I thought, Man, how lucky am I to be able to get these people to duet with me?