Terrence Hughes (born 1955), a native of Los Angeles, relocated to the Twin Cities in 1982 and soon started studying with Brazilian-born pianist Manfredo Fest (1936–1999). Hughes had previously performed with various jazz and rock groups in St. Louis, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
During a jazz class in Monterey in 1977, Hughes met renowned bassist Ray Drummond. “Ray really had a lot to do with setting my musical compass and pointing me in the direction of Miles Davis and the post-bop era,” Hughes explains. Thelonious Monk and Oscar Peterson are among his earliest jazz influences, while Manfredo Fest furthered that education with influences such as Phineas Newborn and Bill Evans
Hughes released East Of The Sun in 1992, featuring some of the best-known local jazz performers, including the late Eddie Berger, Irv Williams, Dave Graf, and Gary Berg. The disk offers live “straight-ahead” jazz performances of standards, along with a few original compositions.
Around the same time, Hughes teamed up with the local Brazilian ensemble Mandala, featuring Maryanne O’Dougherty on vocals. Mandala had been performing in the Twin Cities since the early 1980s without a pianist and Hughes was becoming keenly interested in Brazilian music. It was a perfect fit.
In 1993, the Mandala Trio was formed to play weekends at Azur, a high-end Mediterranean restaurant. With vocals, bass, and piano, the group revised the Mandala book and added a number of new arrangements of classic bossa nova tunes. The group performed at Azur for three years and released two CDs: Watercolor of Brazil in 1996, with Tim Sparks on guitar, and In The Cool Of The Evening in 2002. This record represents the Mandala Trio in its purest form, with hand percussion accompanying the trio, rather than a drummer. Hughes also plays all the guitar tracks as well as piano.
Hughes brought this extensive background in Brazilian music to his latest project, Bossa Blues, a tribute to the music of Manfredo Fest. About the birth of the project, Hughes explains, “I had been playing with bassist Gordon Johnson around Minneapolis and occasionally a ‘Manfredo’ tune would come up. Gordon had played extensively with Manfredo back in the day and really knew the tunes.” Johnson suggested they contact drummer Gordy Knudtson, who also had extensive playing time with Manfredo. After a few sessions, the basics were recorded. With Dave Graf on trombone, Dave Bendigkeit on trumpet and Marc Anderson on percussion, Bossa Blues came together as a tribute to the music and genius of the late Manfredo Fest.
Hughes continues to be a part of the local music scene in the Twin Cities and spends his time publishing community newspapers, raising a teenage daughter, and playing jazz piano.