For the past two decades, Terrence Hughes has been a staple of the Twin Cities jazz and world music scenes, lending his expert piano chops and good energy to various projects, most notably his own solo work and the Brazilian music ensemble The Mandala Trio, which performed its sweet bossa nova on area stages for much of the ‘90s.
Now the ever-curious Hughes is exploring his various musical alter-egos yet again – as the surprisingly seasoned songwriter behind his new solo CD “In The Blink Of An Eye,” which Hughes and his band will celebrate with a release party June 19 at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis.
“This show is about me morphing from Terrence Hughes to Terry Hughes, and I’ve got something to say,” said Hughes, a California native who spent the early ‘80s singing and playing in bands in the Bay Area before relocating to Minneapolis. “I’ve had the songs, and I’ve been waiting to step out until I had the band. Now I’ve got the guys.”
Backed by Marco Kielholz (guitar/vocals), Jonathon Thomas (bass/vocals), Owen Davis (guitar/cello/vocals), Josue Hertado (drums), and Marc Anderson (percussion), Hughes will perform the bulk of “In The Blink Of An Eye” and more June 19 in what amounts to a one-night-only-with-many-more-to-come coming-out party.
“I didn’t listen to rock, or songwriters, or anything like that for years,” said Hughes. “But I was driving with my daughter one day and she was playing Elliot Smith, and something happened. I couldn’t believe the depth, and it was inspiring. I hadn’t sung for 40 years, but all of a sudden these songs started coming out.”
Weird and weirdly timeless, “In The Blink Of An Eye” is a welcome addition to the fertile Twin Cities songwriter milieu, and beyond. From the jubilant opening singalong “I Never Knew Your Name” to the ruminative title track and the cathartic dark epic “Free At Last” and seven more, it’s clear that Hughes is just now coming into his own as a heart-exposing soul singer and as a delicate, wizened songsmith – at the ripe young age of 58.
But “In The Blink Of An Eye” is hardly the work of a first-timer. These are lived-in songs steeped in adult experience. As such, the sum of the record wouldn’t sound out of place in the canons of, say, Joe Jackson, Brian Wilson, Steely Dan, or Big Star.
“You could say I’ve found happiness,” sings Hughes at one point, and he sounds like it. For the rest of us, that sound is nothing short of hopeful, rocking, and infectious. Listen up.