With his new album Moving On, Franco-American pianist Jacky Terrasson continues his musical journey, blending virtuosity, insatiable curiosity and creative freedom. A voyage into the heart of jazz improvisation.

Jacky Terrasson, a Franco-American jazz pianist, is a musician who constantly pushes the boundaries. At 58, he released his eighteenth album since 1991, titled Moving On. An evocative title for an artist who, since his beginnings, has relentlessly explored new musical horizons, guided by his instinct and thirst for freedom.

Born in Berlin to a French father and an African-American mother, Jacky Terrasson grew up in Croissy-sur-Seine, near Paris, where he discovered the piano at an early age. “I remember always seeing a piano at home, and what attracted me most was the instrument itself,” he says. In a large family of six children, the piano became a refuge for him, “a paradise of imagination, freedom, and openness to the world.”

Jacky Terrasson has nurtured this insatiable curiosity since his adolescence. While following a classical curriculum at Lycée Lamartine in Paris, he met Francis Paudras, a jazz writer-biographer, who introduced him to the Parisian club scene. There, Terrasson forged his style, blending European and American influences, melody and rhythm.

“In terms of music, of course, I’m framed by my education, but within that framework, I give myself all the freedoms in the world,” the pianist explains. This freedom translates into beautiful escapades, unexpected changes of direction and tempo, and musical treasure hunts that surprise and delight the listener.

In Moving On, Jacky Terrasson showcases his talent as an improviser and creator. He enjoys transforming a Chopin étude into Besame Mucho, exploring American standards, revisiting French songs, and dialoguing with a bird’s song… A diversity that reflects the eclecticism of his tastes and his refusal of labels. “I don’t hesitate to delve into film music, French songs, street tunes. I can also take a Justin Bieber song and turn it into a hyper bebop version,” he says with a mischievous grin.

This ease in navigating between genres and styles is also due to his dual culture. “His talent is primarily driven by emotion, but he has another quality: his rhythmic ease. His music grooves almost more than it swings, there’s something profound in his pulse,” notes Alex Dutilh, host of the Open Jazz show on France Musique.

A depth acquired on the ground, through encounters and experiences. After cutting his teeth in Parisian clubs, Jacky Terrasson flew to New York in 1991. There, he signed with the prestigious Blue Note label and achieved numerous successes, including the Django Reinhardt Award for best French musician in 2003.

But life is not a smooth ride, even for a talented musician. Five years passed between his previous album and Moving On, marked by personal upheavals: loss of loved ones, moving, divorce, a new love story, pandemic… All these trials enriched his music and maturity, without diminishing his freshness and joy of playing.

“Over time, he has streamlined a lot, he gets to the point. He finds pleasure in simplicity,” notes Alex Dutilh. A communicative pleasure that delighted the audience at Bal Blomet in Paris for three nights and promises new beautiful escapes during his upcoming concerts at Sunside in July.

With Moving On, Jacky Terrasson invites us to join him on his musical journey and discover new soundscapes. In this journey, tradition meets innovation, virtuosity serves emotion and freedom is the engine of creation. It is a journey that, after forty years of career, is just beginning.

With AFP