In September 2000, Lilian Terry retired to Nice, France, with time to write her jazz memoirs. Today the book is about to be published by the University of Illinois Press.
Duke, Dizzy, Brother Ray and Friends covers her relationship with historical jazz icons with whom she had the privilege of maintaining close friendships. Her purpose is not to dissert on their artistic worth but to share with all jazz lovers some of those unique close encounters offering direct insight on the human being behind the musician.
Although writing in the first person singular, Lilian considers herself but a witness to lead the reader through the conversations, interviews and anecdotes, drawing a unique picture of the following artists as she has known them.
She was accepted by Duke Ellington during his last 7 years. He chose to be her friend, demanding her presence during his European tours as his “good-luck charm” and as his sounding board for all the phrases he would recite to her; to be used later in his own writings. Their relationship was a precious experience for her.
Ray Charles and Lilian were close for over 10 years, as shown by the many taped interviews. His initial interest in her developed in an affectionate, protective relationship, where he organised their yearly meetings with discretion. He let her tape their long talks concerning music, segregation, health and religion and enjoyed being her technician, handling the tape recorder himself.
Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach entered her family life in 1967 in Italy, establishing an immediate relationship that lasted strongly through the years till their passing away: Max in 2007 and Abbey in 2010.
Also Dizzy Gillespie chose to become a most welcome member of her family. During the last 20 years of his life, he chose to participate actively in her most important educational projects in Italy and in general became a beloved member of her community becoming officially an Honorary Citizen of Bassano del Grappa, where they had founded the “Dizzy Gillespie Popular School of Music”.
Horace Silver was irresistible with his sharp sense of humour and brilliant music. With Lilian he would discuss seriously about religions and history, yet always interspersed with laughter. Their friendship, born in 1968, lasted through all his years.
Mentioning Bill Evans gives Lilian a feeling of deep regret for the loss of such a unique artist and human being. For some odd, fortunate reason he chose to spend one full day with her in Bologna, Italy. To her joy he was willing to share his thoughts on music, education and politics, with a few smiles added. That single day was worth a lifetime for her.
Each of these great artists had a very different, well-defined, personality. They opened their inner doors, generously allowing her to enter and witness their private lives. You are welcome to join her.
A brief excerpt from Lilian Terry's book, Duke, Dizzy, Brother Ray and Friends:
Dizzy Gillespie - the Joyous Soul of Jazz
This book is not about Dizzy Gillespie as the great artist, musical innovator, technical magician, composer and arranger who led the way to new, daring, harmonic and rhythmic inventions; nor as the amazing instrumental performer.
This book is aimed at giving you a different insight on the private, original, unpredictable yet thoughtful human being that was John Birks Gillespie as we knew him, spanning a period of 20 years.
If, while reading it, you catch a shadow of his rich laughter, his joy of living, his sharp humour and his husky, boisterous voice, and feel for a moment as if he were with us again, then this effort will have been worthwhile.
Voices from the Jazz Dimension
Lilian Terry is often asked for anecdotes regarding the many famous artists she has approached for her work and who have given her their friendship, their trust and confidence, and their affection. A certain number of taped interviews being in her possession, it was suggested to produce a series of audiobooks containing not only the vocal interviews but also Lilian's presentation regarding each occasion and each artist involved. There are about 50 interviews.