6 career defining records of Terry Bozzio

12th Oct 2009 | 11:11

6 career defining records of Terry Bozzio
Terry Bozzio
The genre-busting sticksman chooses his six best

The inimitable Terry Bozzio is probably best known for his stick duties with Missing Persons and Frank Zappa. But his ‘genre-busting’ solo work and list of collaborations make for a wonderful mix of career-defining moments.

Here, Bozzio shares the six records which have most shaped his career, telling Rhythm Magazine why they mattered so much along the way.

Next page: “everything and the kitchen sink”

6 career defining records of Terry Bozzio
Heavy Metal Be-Bop (1978)
The Brecker Brothers

Terry hits the road with Michael and Randy Brecker. Heavy Metal Be-Bop captures the brothers’ iconic fusion live in concert.

Terry Bozzio says:

“We recorded at My Father’s Place in Long Island and, believe it or not, that wasn’t our best night of the whole tour. We pulled it together on our last set, but there were nights that left that one so far in the dust.”

“I was throwing in everything and the kitchen sink, wasting myself on every tune and the guys kept turning around and going, ‘Come on, we want more’. I couldn’t believe how much they let me get away with and what phenomenal players they were.“

“Michael was a tremendous loss, especially at the prime of his life.”

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Buy Heavy Metal Be-Bop here: Amazon UK | Play.com | HMV

6 career defining records of Terry Bozzio
Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop (1989)
Jeff Beck

Not many drummers could hold their own playing with Jeff Beck, but Terry’s drumming on Guitar Shop is flawless.

Terry Bozzio says:

“Pianist Tony Hymas is a freaking genius - I absolutely love that guy. He’d wake up every morning, play Mozart and DeBussy and commit it to memory. I was looking at him doing this every day and going, ‘God, I’ve managed to make a career out of a little wrinkled paper bag of drum licks. What a cheater I am!’ So I started to apply myself more rigorously to my art at that point.”

“Jeff Beck is one of those guys who’s just touched by God. There isn’t a guitarist who has his sound, his identity or his feel in the universe.”

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Buy Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop here: Amazon UK | Play.com | HMV

6 career defining records of Terry Bozzio
Polytown (1994)
Mick Karn/David Torn/Terry Bozzio

The trio of Terry, Mick Karn (pictured above) from art rockers Japan and guitarist/programmer David Torn, who Terry describes as “like Picasso with his loops”, created abstract soundscapes mixing fusion and new age.

Terry Bozzio says:

“Mick is a sculptor and artist and one of the most unique bass players I’ve ever played with in my life. Everything he’s doing sounds like it’s backwards. I don’t know how he phrases or thinks or where he’s coming from, but it’s deep and I love it.”

“We had the opportunity to go into a studio for three weeks and we improvised and turned it into some beautiful stuff. There’s a 6/8 ostinato called ‘Warrior Horsemen’ - it’s one of my favourite pieces of music. I heard it recently and I’d forgotten how great it is.”

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Buy Polytown here: Amazon UK | Play.com

6 career defining records of Terry Bozzio
Drawing The Circle (1998)
Terry Bozzio

Subtitled ‘New Music for Solo Drumset’, the album sees Terry delve into African beats, Latin rhythms and jazz grooves with no accompaniment at all. A real high water mark in drumming.

Terry Bozzio says:

“Drawing The Circle is a landmark. I went into the studio and did everything in one take - that’s the way I work.”

“Sometimes you’ll hit a rim when you’re doing something melodically and miss the pitch that you’re trying to get across, so if that happens there may be two spots on the record where I’ll sample a drum and put that pitch along with the stick click so it doesn’t destroy the intent of the melody.”

“That’s the only repair work I’ll do - other than that, it’s entirely human and real. It’s the result of me playing that stuff live.”

6 career defining records of Terry Bozzio
Chamberworks (1998)
Terry Bozzio

Terry’s ‘Five Movements For Drum Set and Orchestra’, plus the closing track Opus One, see Terry embrace his classical influences and take the drum set into new and fertile territory.

Terry Bozzio says:

“I did that in one shot, mixed it and there it was. Later I was offered the chance to do it with a chamber ensemble at the Vienna Jazz Festival, where it premiered, then I did it again with the Metropole Orchestra.”

“Martin Fondse basically took the parts that were originally written for about 10 players and expanded them into a 60-piece orchestra configuration that included all sorts of brass and percussion I hadn’t used. Going through the rehearsal process with a chamber ensemble of 10 pieces when you can click your drum sticks louder than the violinist could ever play is a pretty daunting experience.”

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Buy Chamberworks here: Amazon UK

6 career defining records of Terry Bozzio
Live With the Tosca Strings (2008)
Terry Bozzio

Terry, keyboard player Chris Maresh and bass player Stephen Barber teamed up with the classically trained Tosca Strings Quartet for a performance in his hometown captured for prosperity on DVD.

Terry Bozzio says:

“Tosca Strings was me reaching out to the local talent in Austin and going, ‘Let’s see what we can do’. The keyboardist and the bassist, Chris and Stephen, are both excellent improvisers, so I was confident about being able to work along with them.”

“We went to the One World Theatre, which is this beautiful little theatre very near my house in Austin, rehearsed a few times and did it. There’s a lot of good improvisation on that DVD and plenty of beautifully played pieces.”

“Whatever little things may have gone wrong here and there on the night, and happily there were only a few, we were able to duck and cover with a little bit of overdubbing.”

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Buy Live With the Tosca Strings (DVD) here: Amazon UK | Play.com | HMV

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