Singer/songwriter Sally Terrell celebrates the release of her latest CD,
Feel Alive, at largest outdoor jazz fest in Western New York
Largest outdoor free jazz festival in the region returns after 2-year hiatus
Acclaimed jazz artists John di Martino and Lonnie Plaxico
join vocalist Terrell for a brilliant mix
of standards and originals
Music fans lucky enough to be in the Niagara Falls region on Friday, August 26 are in for a treat when singer Sally Terrell kicks off a much-anticipated weekend of music at the 20th Northwest Jazz Festival. The popular festival returns to Lewiston, NY this month after a two-year COVID-necessitated hiatus.
It’s also a return visit to the Northwest Jazz Festival for the Youngstown, NY-born singer/songwriter Sally Terrell. Her 6 p.m. set is expected to focus on a beautifully curated choice of popular tunes from across the decades, jazz standards, and her own insightful originals. Much of her material will be drawn from her second CD, the self-produced Feel Alive, on which Terrell for the very first time presents her own considerable songwriting skills.
Sally Terrell picked up her love of music literally at her father’s elbow: When she was just six years old, she’d perch beside him at the piano and pick out tunes by ear. While music has played a constant role in her life, Terrell spent decades teaching writing at Tunxis Community College in Connecticut before giving in to the pull to perform. She studied voice with Giacomo Gates, a perpetual favorite among jazz fans and critics, prior to releasing her first album, Just in Time in 2019.
Terrell’s repertoire includes songs popularized by musical legends such as Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Dinah Washington, and Nat King Cole. Feel Alive showcases Terrell’s understated, wistful version of the Irving Berlin classic “Blue Skies.” The vocalist makes the familiar lyrics of “When I Fall in Love” sound as personal as if she were composing them in the moment. Terrell’s slow and sexy take on the Eddy Arnold-penned “You Don’t Know Me” seems a perfect choice for a hot, late summer outdoor gig.
Perhaps Terrell’s experience as a writing teacher honed her ability to broach tough topics in her own songs in an accessible, lyrical way. Her insightful originals cover topics from the state of the heart to the state of the world. The artist’s thought-provoking lyrics pull the listener in without ever belaboring the wisdom she shares.
The title track of Terrell’s CD, “Feel Alive,” could be an anthem for the pandemic era, pairing relatable socially conscious lyrics (“Another day in lockdown paradise…”) with a mellow melody. There’s a bittersweet touch to her delivery that feels deeply personal, as well as appropriate to our unsettled times. The plea for acceptance and understanding heard in “Beautiful” could address—and maybe bridge—a divide between lovers or political adversaries.
Regardless of the material or its source, Sally Terrell delivers her songs with a pared-down simplicity that evokes the direct and deceptively simple vocal style of bossa nova legend Astrud Gilberto.
Joining Sally Terrell for the Lewiston fest will be a pair of highly respected, often recorded, and in-demand jazz veterans: pianist John di Martino and bassist Lonnie Plaxico, who are among the players on Feel Alive. Their brilliant interplay on the new album, especially the Sympatico pairing of di Martino and Terrell, bodes well for listeners as the threesome reunites on the Northwest Jazz Festival stage.
Catch singer/songwriter Sally Terrell Friday, August 26 at 6 pm., at the Northwest Jazz Festival in Lewiston, NY, at the Main Stage located at Center Street and Fourth Street in Lewiston. Admission is free.