The Kennedy Center

Jacky Terrasson


Jacky Terrasson, pianist, born in Berlin, Germany in 1965, grew up in Paris, France, where he lived with his French father and American mother. He took classical piano lessons from ages five through twelve, but after discovering the sounds of Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Nat "King" Cole and other jazz greats on records, he soon began studying with Jeff Gardner, an expatriate American who taught Jacky basic jazz piano. He entered the Lycee Lamartine at age 15, where he did both academic work and continued studying jazz privately. Francis Paudras, whose friendship with Bud Powell inspired the film 'Round Midnight, was the father of a fellow student, and Jacky was able to sample Paudras's wide-ranging jazz film and record collection. Encouraged by Paudras, Terrasson entered the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1985. There he met Dennis Carroll, a bassist, who asked Mr. Terrasson to go with him to Chicago to perform a regular, five-night per week gig. After a year at Berklee, he took the offer and worked in Chicago for eight months. He returned to France for a year's service in the French Army, after which he settled in Paris and began performing at summer festivals and in clubs. 

He worked with Dee Dee Bridgewater and found gigs with tenor saxophonists Guy Lafitte and Barney Wilen. He also made three road trips under the title: Ray Brown's Two Bass Hits Featuring Pierre Boussaguet and Jacky Terrasson. In 1990 he moved to New York where he began to find his own "voice," playing at clubs such as Augie's with artists like saxophonist Jesse Davis, and trumpeters Wallace Roney and Tex Allen. He received major exposure working as pianist with drummer Arthur Taylor's ensembles. 

With two friends from Augie's, drummer Leon Parker and bassist Ugonna Okegwo, the pianist formed a trio in 1993. He performed with tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson on Jackson's 1993 Blue Note record debut, an album produced by Betty Carter. He also entered and won the November 1993 Thelonious Monk Competition, and appeared with Betty Carter herself the next day. The following year Terrasson's Trio made its first Blue Note recording, Jacky Terrasson

Since that debut, and Mr. Terrasson's 1994 selection by The New York Times Magazine as "one of thirty artists, 30 and under, most likely to change American culture for the next thirty years," he has recorded several more Blue Note albums. His trio joined him on Reach. For Rendzevous Terrasson teamed up with vocalist Cassandra Wilson, Lonnie Parker on bass, and percussionist .Mino Cinelu. Jacky Terrasson reunited with Leon Parker and Ugonna Okegwo to record Alive at the Iridum in New York City in June of 1997, and What It Is was issued in 1999. 

His latest album, À Paris, again with Parker and Okegwo and guest artists including Stefon Harris on the marimba, draws on the rich history of French popular songs, including some made famous by Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf.

Last updated: March 1, 2007
Jacky Terrasson Trio