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Terje Lie

About Me

TERJE LIE Traveler True to the title of his high-spirited and eclectic debut album Traveler, saxophonist and singer Terje Lie (“Terry Lee”) has journeyed to and explored many unique places— musically, spiritually and geographically—in his fascinating lifetime. The versatile musician began his career fronting popular blues bands as a singer during high school, in which capacity he appeared on national TV at seventeen. He was a classical flautist in college and soon after established himself on his native Norwegian music scene singing and playing saxophone with some of the top young musicians there. He was busy with his jazz combos and a contemporary jazz group on the funky side, as well as a fusion group, in Oslo, on the road, and on national radio and TV. He also played sax with rock & roll groups, touring in Norway and Sweden. Settling in L.A. and establishing himself on the Los Angeles music scene, Lie, who explains that “jazz wise I’m a New Yorker, but I love the Southern California lifestyle,” has been in nonstop motion, hopping effortlessly from bebop to contemporary and big band jazz. Tapping into a wide variety of jazz influences from John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Wayne Shorter to Brazilian jazz, Lie fashions ten tracks on Traveler that speak the vocabulary of an honest-to-goodness jazz approach while maintaining a contemporary driving groove with the help of three of L.A.’s most exciting first call sidemen: keyboardist David Garfield (longtime musical director for George Benson, whose resume also includes Michael McDonald, Dianne Reeves and Luther Vandross), bassist Ernest Tibbs (Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight, Norman Brown), and drummer Jeff Olson (David Benoit, Earl Klugh). “Traveler is the project I’ve been intending to do my whole life,” says Lie. “Like the improvisational nature of jazz itself, the project evolved from my first inclination to go in the studio with these guys and create an acoustic jazz disc with maybe a few Wayne Shorter-flavored tracks on the funky side. But David, Ernest, and Jeff sounded so hot on the first couple of funky tunes we recorded, Pier Avenue and Warp 7, and the energy was so much fun that I went home and wrote more tunes in more of a contemporary, ‘dancey’ direction. Basic jazz fans can get into it, too, because everyone’s approach to soloing is completely in the jazz vein.” While tracks like the energetic, hard-driving opener Pier Avenue and percussive vibe of Runnin’ Outta Time clock in at a radio-friendly three to five minutes, others like the shimmering, Shorteresque soprano tune Warp 7, the smooth-jazzy romance You and the wild free-for-all jazz funk closer Silver Streaks (which features fiery solo spots from Garfield and Tibbs amidst Lie’s urgent tenor) expand effortlessly to six, seven and eight minutes. Key tracks on Traveler also include the eloquent and spacey Miles Davis tribute MDD III, the traditional style jazz ballad My Love (a sax and piano duet) and the sensual vocal tunes Travelers (funky, almost pop-influenced groove), and boss nova and samba- tinged I Want To Love You. “This is my first CD under my own name and I really wanted it to unfold and evolve naturally; be the result of gathering four musicians in a studio and just having a blast with the creative process. As for the title Traveler, it was not only about the journey of making this record, but all the places I’ve performed and the way music for me needs to transport both the musician and the listener to a deeper or higher place of intensity, if you will. The mind and soul travel aspects are the main purposes for making music for me. The ultimate is to get to that place where there is no time or space when I play. Where everything becomes one.” Terje Lie has been doing just that, making all kinds of music, since he picked up his first instrument, the trumpet, back in third grade in his hometown of Oslo. “You play in marching bands in elementary school there and I was a brass player in my school band,” he says. In high school, his obsession with the blues led him to join a blues outfit as lead singer for a few years. Then the group’s guitar player introduced him to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and Lie was mesmerized from the first notes, envisioning himself playing jazz saxophone from that point on. Enrolling in the music education program at the Royal Norwegian Academy of Music, Lie focused his musical studies on classical flute and operatic singing. His professors warned him about slipping sax in the mix, because it might hinder his flute playing. Already playing professionally during these college years, upon graduating, Lie divided his time between part-time work as a music teacher for the Oslo school district and establishing himself on the Norwegian capital’s jazz scene as a singer. During this time, he finally picked up the saxophone and chose that as his primary instrument. His first sax teacher was famed European saxophonist and long-time ECM recording artist Jan Garbarek. Lie also went on the road, touring with his jazz groups, as well as rock & roll and pop bands, and appeared on the national jazz radio shows in Norway. He was awarded a Stipend for Performing Artists, an award similar to the ones given by the Endowment for the Arts to musicians in the U.S. “When I moved to the U.S., New York had a pull on me, and still does, due to the jazz scene there, but I’d had enough of cold and wet weather and flew directly to Los Angeles. I’d grown to love that kind of climate from spending time in the Mediterranean. I’m a beach bum!” he laughs. “I also like that L.A. contemporary jazz thing with minor ninth chords and light, funky grooves. I dubbed it pacific romantic funk. Fits great with a Sunday drive along the Malibu coastline! You hear some of that influence on Traveler. My fellow musicians on this CD definitely have that particular type of feel,” Lie says. While struggling to establish himself in the Los Angeles area, his new home base, he played every kind of gig from Top 40 bands to jazz big bands and union casuals and also worked for a period of time as a staff orchestra musician for the major cruise lines. “The cruise ship gigs presented great opportunities to woodshed and hone your skills. In the show bands, you had to play and read any style of music right now six nights a week. The bandleaders were often jazz cats in disguise and would have the bands play jazz whenever the opportunity arose, which was often. I absolutely love being at sea, so that aspect of it was good also. It really wasn’t too bad to get paid to sail around in the tropics and get to play your horn every day!” Lie says. Along with playing a variety of types of music as a free-lance musician, Lie kept on being an active jazz artist, appearing with his different jazz groups in different settings, including appearing on BET TV with his contemporary jazz group. He also went back to school, enrolling in the Master of Music program at the jazz department at California State University Long Beach. His teachers there included virtuoso smooth and straight-ahead jazz saxophonist Eric Marienthal. Lie’s quartet became jazz ambassadors for the university, playing at local high schools to promote the jazz program. He graduated with a 4.0 GPA and received a Distinguished Achievement in Creativity Award from the College of the Arts at CSULB. Along with performing, he then became quite involved in music education for a while before putting all his focus on the pursuit of his career as a solo recording artist. “It’s great to look back and think about all the different styles of music I’ve played and the wide variety of places where I’ve performed in my life,” Lie says. “When I’m performing, time disappears. Whether you consider that spiritual travel or simply entering what feels like a different dimension, it’s the ultimate experience of traveling somewhere else for me. I like to share that place with my audience. The most thrilling moments are when our playing takes us on a trip to that unique and fascinating realm. With the release of Traveler, I look forward to the opportunity of getting out and performing for more and more people throughout the world.” BELOW ARE THREE NEW REVIEWS OF MY CD "TRAVELER": "TERJE LIE Traveler TCat Records Apply straight-ahead jazz sensibilities to compositions with a contemporary groove, and you have the recipe for some tasty music that’s accessible enough for Smooth Jazz fans and meaty enough for jazz heads, too. That’s exactly what Norwegian-born and now So Cal-based sax man Terje Lie (say “Terry Lee”) has cooked up for us in TRAVELER, his impressive debut disc.Terje spent many years as a jazz artist and freelance musician in the L.A. area, including gigs with the acclaimed Nelson Riddle Orchestra. When you’re working on a culinary masterpiece, you need quality ingredients, which in Terje’s case would be the ten original songs, ranging from the energetic “Pier Avenue” and “Runnin’ Outta Time” to the eloquent and introspective Miles Davis salute, “MDD III,” and the stunningly beautiful traditional jazz ballad, “My Love.” You can’t create award-winning dishes without a brilliant staff to support you (as anyone who’s seen Iron Chef can attest), and Terje Lie’s got three of L.A.’s most exciting sidemen for this project, namely keyboardist David Garfield, bassist Ernest Tibbs, and drummer Jeff Olson. Oh, and for some added spice, Terje sings on a couple of the tracks, namely “I Want To Love You” and “Travelers,” which has a bit of a Kurt Elling vibe to it. So the prep-work is done, it’s time to cook, and “BAM!” that’s where the magic happens on TRAVELER. With sax solos that remind me of Wayne Shorter and solid musicianship throughout, Terje Lie’s TRAVELER delivers a most satisfying aural feast!" ~SCOTT O'BRIEN, "Sometimes you can tell a book by its cover. Basking in the glow of a Pacific Coast sunset, cheerfully holding his tenor, Norwegian Terje Lie embodies the music on the smooth sounding Traveler: easy, funky and fun. Supported by some of the best Los Angeles musicians, Lie plays alto, tenor and soprano on a collection of catchy and grooving originals. He has an ingratiating sound on tenor, and uses it well on the funky "Pier Avenue" and heavy back-beated "Runnin' Outta Time." His soprano is clear and pristine, be it with the slapped bass support by Ernest Tibbs on "Warp 7" or with the dreamy and atmospheric keyboards supplied by David Garfield on "MDDIII." The best and most alluring moment comes when Lie's tenor joins with Garfield's keyboards in a lovely and romantic duet during "My Love." This Scandinavian has plenty of warmth and allure to his playing. Smooth jazz fans will certainly want this one." - George Harris, All About Jazz magazine "TERJE LIE/Traveler: What can you say about a Norwegian that felt like a New Yorker in his soul but dug the southern California vibe much better than the Big Apple cold who has been playing since he was a kid? You can say he finally made the debut album he’s been waiting his whole life to make and that he knows it’s important to make a good first impression because you don’t get another chance. This is a fine introduction to a non-stop gig machine that will play anything anywhere but is a pretty dandy sax man that add s something to smooth jazz via his outsiders perspective. A nicely driving set that gives jazzbos a new player to celebrate." - Chris Spector,

My Favorites

  1. John Coltrane - Crescent
  2. Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
  3. John Scofield - Loud Jazz