The summer may be coming to an end but our musician spotlights are ongoing! We are continuing the series with Terrence Brewer, a Bay area musician carving out a space for Jazz education and appreciation.
He has performed at the 52nd Annual Monterey Jazz Festival, has been ranked on JazzWeek national radio multiple times, and owns his own record label, Strong Brew Music. In addition to performing and teaching, he has notably released ten albums in the last ten years.
Since he was a child, Terrence Brewer’s life has been informed by an insatiable passion for music. He was was raised in an environment that welcomed a plentitude of assorted sounds from gospel, to rock and roll, and jazz. After watching a middle school symphonic band performance at ten, Brewer sought out music for the rest of his formative years. In high school, he joined every conceivable music ensemble including jazz band, symphonic band, and marching band while gaining experience performing in jazz festivals and competitions.
In college, Brewer majored in music with a concentration in jazz and classical guitar. Although guitar is his notable instrument, the musical maestro can also play anything with strings, the flute, saxophone, clarinet, and piano.
His longstanding experience with music education has instrumentally affected his jazz career. In fact, he says striking a balance between teaching and performing simultaneously is at the center of his musical endeavor. In the past 15 years, he has taught at every grade level, from elementary to college, in a range of capacities. In conjunction with SFJAZZ, Brewer has developed and lead several education programs that illuminate the history of jazz for San Francisco’s school district.
“When I’m performing, it triggers amazing feelings and emotions that makes me smile in ways that nothing else does,” Brewer said. “But my life would be incomplete without teaching - when I strictly perform I miss teaching and when I strictly teach I miss performing.”
When Brewer performs, he likes to open each show with a bit of the blues. Although technically a different genre, his decision to do so honors the legacy of jazz and where it comes from, while setting the stage for the creative space the musicians are about to enter.
“The blues is the predecessor and catalyst for what we know as jazz,” said Brewer. “I start off with blues because it’s a good vehicle for us getting our bodies and minds ready for the performance ahead of us.”
Brewer gets philosophical when asked why jazz is so important to him. He says you can extrapolate many metaphors for life when creating jazz. His ideology of jazz allows him to approach life from a very improvised vantage point. When teaching, this means that he’ll taper lessons based on a student’s talents and goals, as opposed to setting a curriculum they must follow. Additionally, Brewer argues you learn when you teach, so it’s a rewarding process of becoming a better performer and musician.
“I try to let things happen organically because that’s what music is really about,” Brewer said.