ANTONIO FARAO piano
JENS WINTHER trumpet
TONY LAKATOS sax
MARTIN GJAKONOVSKI bass
DEJAN TERZIC drums
Drummer Dejan Terzic is one of a couple of handfuls of young musicians living in Germany who have begun to make their presence felt on the world jazz scene in the last decade. The reason for this abundance of budding world class talent taking root and flourishing in the German jazz soil is a theme for the jazz historian - but the fact is that Germany has become fertile ground for contemporary jazz.
Dejan was born in Banja Luka in what was then Yugoslavia. His Serbian family moved to Germany when Dejan was 3 years old. He began playing piano at the age of 6, and took up drums at 12, playing art first in rock and funk groups. His induction into the world of jazz came through the back door. Listening to Sting's album "Bring On the Night", he was grabbed by the playing of pianist Kenny Kirkland and saxophonist Branford Marsalis. It was at this point that his exploration of the world of jazz began in earnest. In the summer of 1991 Terzic journeyed to the Vermont Jazz Center, run by the legendary Hungarian guitarist Attilla Zoller. Attilla proved to be a major influence on Dejan, encouraging him, and clueing him in on the subtleties of group dynamics and improvisation. During the same summer Trezic became a member of New York's Drummer's Collective, where he studied with among others, Marvin Smitty Smith and Bill Stewart. Back in Germany, Dejan began studying at the conservatory in Wurzburg where he met up with drummer Bill Elgart, one of the most original creative players on the scene. Terzic's comment was, "...he brought me to some really different stuff..." The next few years were hectic ones, filled with studies and gigs. Dejan became a member of the Bavarian First Herd big band, and later the German Youth Jazz Orchestra. His playing began to catch the ears of both musicians and the public - and his playing began to gather in the prizes - Young Bavarian jazz Lion 94/95, Best Drummer, Krakow festival 94, Best Drummer, Leipzig Festival 95, Best Musician,, International Jazz Festival Oberkochen, 95. Nuremberg Cultural Prize, 97. In 1994 Dejan founded the Sunday Night Orchestra. They proved a success; in 1995 the band toured Europe and recorded with the great American saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi as guest. Dejan has become a mainstay on the European jazz scene. In the last few years Terzic has toured Europe with James Moody, Vincent Herring, Ugetsu, and Tony Lakatos-Kirk Lightsey, to name a few. Besides his own projects, he is a regular member if the Antonio Farao Trio, Franco Ambrosetti Group, and the Dusko Goykovic Quintet.
The group on Coming Up was initially assembled for a tour in October-November, 2000, the high point of which was an appearance at the prestigious Nuremberg East-West Jazz Festival. It is a high-powered ensemble of international stars - all out of Europe. The concept was to have an all-European group, instead of importing a big-name American star who would be available for the tour and then disappear back to the States. With Danish trumpeter Jens Winther, Hungarian saxophonist Tony Lakatos, Italian pianist Antonio Farió, and Macedonian bassist Martin Gjakonovski, the concept more than works - the results are a band that thinks and feels, caresses or burns - together.
Terzic found that first as sideman then as bandleader he was always playing other musicians' music. Something was missing - he was aware that many of the other drummers he knew and admired were composing. "I realized I needed to write, that I could find out more about myself, and what I wanted to do musically through composing my own pieces." He began composing in 1998, and in 1999 he recorded four of his own compositions on his debut album as leader, Four For One, on the prestigious Australian independent record label, Naxos. The album received critical acclaim worldwide, and was rated one of the top ten jazz albums of the year by the Dublin Times. Concerning the compositions on Coming Up, Dejan says, "The first time the group got together, everyone brought something in, but it seemed to me that the music lost some of its center. I felt if I used my own compositions, it would give the group more of an original identity." The decision was clearly the right one. All ten pieces are Terzic's, and his writing lends a coherent integrity to an album that is overflowing with spontaneous interplay and invention. Indeed, the compositional variety and intricacy is astounding. There are surprises at every twist and turn, right on through several subtly choreographed unforeseen endings.
Terzic: "Coming Up has a tricky melody with lots of odd meters. I wrote it with this band in mind. I had the melody in my head, and then sat down at the drums and came up with the rhythms." The rhythm section alternates between a loose, suspended feeling, and a hard-driving medium-up tempo groove, with Winter's lyrical contemplative style perfectly offset by Lakatos's insistent, pulsing, and Faraó's infectiously swinging solos.
Terzic: "Soft Aberration is written in 6/4 over a bass vamp. At first I thought it was going to be a ballad because of the suspended quality of the melody." The piece has an uncommon 9-bar structure. The remarkable interplay between the soloists and the rhythm section allows the music to seemingly weave in and out of times and tempos. A beautiful crystal-clear bass solo brings the band back into the head.
Terzic: "Tectonic features Antonio. He's killing over these kinds of vamps. The melody is in 7 with a bridge in 4/4. The title relates to the structure - it's a 'construction' piece." It also features a "killing" drum-tenor saxophone duet in the tradition of Elvin Jones and John Coltrane.
Terzic: "Ardor refers to the book by Vladimir Nabakov. The theme came to me spontaneously - it took me a half an hour to write. It reminded me of my youth." The theme has the prerequisite taste of nostalgia shaded with a tinge of sadness. It includes a beautiful inward-looking muted trumpet solo with a touch of Mile's dark warmth.
Terzic: "Well, Add Black is a homage to the drummer Ed Blackwell, who was one of my favorites." Blackwell was best known for his work with Ornette Coleman. Appropriately it has an Ornettish feel, and there is a lot of hip blowing together over the groove.
Terzic: "This is the second time I have recorded Position Konkret. This version is more linear and freer - more in the direction I'm going musically." The complex counterpoint feel of the intro is followed by a post-modern funk feel, and moves into free flowing solos where the imagination is the limit.
Terzic: "I'm a Virgo - the composition with its major and minor chords has a somewhat contradictory feel - like the sign." The composition has a mysterious romantic aura that is exquisitely carried through in the tenor and bass solos.
Terzic: "I wrote New Start in the month January, thus the name. The piece goes in three different directions the way we play it." The hip juxtaposition of tempos and powerful propulsive swing of the rhythm section make for one exhilarating ride from start to finish.
Terzic: "Summer of 86 is an homage to my parents - a reminiscence of childhood and growing up, the first gigs..." The piece, with its haunting melodic melancholy, is another indication of the strong element of romance in Terzic's writing. Terzic: "When I was studying with Bill Stewart, we'd be playing, maybe "trading 8s", and he'd say, 'Man, I can't show you that - you're stealing my licks'." Of course, Steal Your Licks is something of a drum feature, with Terzic taking turns trading eighths with the front line. It's a fitting ending to an album that showcases Dejan's remarkable talents. Coming Up is Terzic's second album as leader; it certainly will not be his last. His superb drumming is matched by a compositional style that has depth and breadth. Dejan's European Assembly is an eclectic group of master musicians with a single aim: to play adventurous, exciting, challenging music together. This is music that swings and moves both body and spirit. Terzic isn't just coming up; he has arrived.