By Sheryl Aronson
On Thursday, July 14th, Terry Wollman, guitarist/composer/producer featured his quartet at the Laguna Festival of the Arts with special guest vocalist, Melanie Taylor. The audience’s ears were treated to Wollman’s melodic, rich, easy flowing compositions like Reflections from his Silver Collection Album and the swinging, fast paced driving rhythm of Norwegian Wood, that broke into a high-kicking blues. Melanie Taylor spiced the evening’s festivities, singing a few original tunes from her newest EP. Her deep intonation and smooth phrasing of the ballad, The Road I’m On, slid soulfully over the heartstrings. The multi-talented band of Greg Manning (keyboards), Tom Brechtlein (drums), Chris Golden (bass), and Terry Wollman (guitar), kicked it into high gear as they whipped out A Night In Tunisia with Melanie Taylor, showcasing her jazzy interpretative vocals. The crowd applauded loudly, loving the energetic and delightful performance of the bebop standard.
After Terry Wollman’s set, I sat down with him and discovered he has been very busy with some exciting new projects.
I hear you’ve been doing some very interesting projects with some icons in the entertainment industry.
Terry Wollman: Most recently I produced Dick Van Dyke… a song for a movie. It’s a documentary that will be out in a few months that still doesn’t have a working title, but I will let you know in a few months. It’s about vitality, it’s about people in their 90’s and 100’s that are doing fun, active, interesting, playful, inspired things. Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks and Dick Van Dyke are a few of the featured people. Because Dick Van Dyke is a singer and a dancer, the producer of the movie asked if I could produce a song for the movie and I said, ‘Absolutely.’
Was it an original song?
Terry Wollman: No. We re-cut a song that Dick Van Dyke has already sung …but I can’t say what it is yet… then that led to going to New York to produce a song with Tony Bennett. (He smiles mischievously and says) I can’t say what song here either.
How amazing to work with these two legends in the entertainment business.
Terry Wollman: After that I came back to Los Angeles, and at Capitol Records, I produced one more song, which was a new and original composition written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and Dave Grusin. Dave played piano and I played guitar. It was for the closing of the movie and the title. Alan Bergman sang it.
To produce a song for Dick Van Dyke, what specifically did you do to cater to his talents?
Terry Wollman: I do what I would do to produce any instrumental or vocal artist…I sit in a room with them and get to know them. So I went out to Dick’s house and met with him and his wife and the director of the movie. We spent a couple of hours and talked about different songs they had in mind, then we picked a key, a tempo and a point of view that was comfortable for him. From that conversation, I did an arrangement.
Dick Van Dyke is a show tune singer, he’s been in so many musicals, is that his genre or does he sing jazz?
Terry Wollman: No. He can swing. To me, Dick felt like Frank Sinatra or Mel Torme…or like Fred Astaire. There’s a swing…Dick comes from an era where the performers could sing and dance…and he has a depth to it. His phrasing is delicious.
Even in his 90’s, his voice is still strong?
Terry Wollman: Yes. We were in the studio all day, not only recording the song, then we cut a video which will be out as well. There’s a separate video that we did. We’re on camera…I’m in the movie. You’ll see Dick, the band and I talking back and forth about the song and recording it.
Did you get to choose the musicians in the band?
Terry Wollman: Yes. Nathan East on bass, John Robinson on drums, and Bill Cantos played piano and Eric Marienthal played sax and I played guitar.
And how about for Tony Bennett?
Terry Wollman: For Tony Bennett we used his quartet and I arranged the music with his musical director and I produced it. We remade a song he has sung before with my original spin on it.
Tony Bennett just turned 90. And Alan Bergman just turned 90. I had the deep honor and privilege of producing a brand new, Marilyn & Alan Bergman and Dave Grusin song. Alan sang it and I brought Dave Grusin in to play piano. It was a bonus I got to play the guitar on the song as well.
When is the movie coming out?
Terry Wollman: Sometime this year. It’s done and they are shopping it and they are timing it with the award’s shows.
Talk about why these icons like Dick Van Dyke, Tony Bennett, Alan & Marilyn Bergman are so important in the entertainment industry?
Terry Wollman: They’re interested in life. They’re inspired, they’re vibrant and having a good time. They’re also keeping the torch alive for music and melody and writing lyrics that are meaningful. That’s why these songs are so strong because they’re melody driven and lyric driven.
Alan Bergman plays tennis every day. Dick Van Dyke goes to the gym and works out. Tony Bennett paints and travels.
Let’s switch gears and please comment on playing at The Festival of the Arts in Laguna Beach. How do you like playing with Melanie Taylor as well?
Terry Wollman: It’s my second year playing at the Festival of the Arts. I asked Melanie Taylor to perform with me again because she is a fabulous singer. The timing worked out well because Melanie just came off the road with Barry Manilow.
This venue at the Festival of the Arts is important because it’s an artist’s community but it reaches out to the non-artist as well. We’re surrounded by sculptures, painters and ceramicists, it’s a creative environment. It’s a very cultural area. There’s an energy here, besides it’s by the beach. Susan Davis works all year to make it happen and she loves her work. It’s important to her to expose great music to great people. There are a limited amount of slots so it’s an honor to be asked back again. Fred Satler and Susan Davis run this and they’re brilliant at it.
What other music projects are you doing?
Terry Wollman: I’m hosting my own radio show starting August 3rd on every Wednesday. It is on Entertalk Radio which I’m doing from my studio but they’re based in San Diego. It’s an hour show and my guests call in. My first interview will be Melissa Manchester. I will be interviewing Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Dave Koz, and Melanie Taylor. It will be in-depth interviews about …not just your story but your point of view, your process, what you know to be true. It will be about the things I find personally interesting regarding the people I am interviewing, and the behind the scenes’ stories that people don’t really know about them.
It’s a show that will be interesting to the fans but invaluable to musicians who are up and coming. I want people who are holding the torch that are making music with integrity and depth to talk about how they do this. It will also feature all aspects of entertainment business…not just the performers.
There will be a link on my website. Wednesday, 3-4pm live. It will be archived.
Are you working on your own music?
Terry Wollman: I am working on my next single. I just produced a single on Greg Manning’s new record, Sugar and Spice. We co-wrote a song together with Richard Hernandez called Esperanza. It means hope in Spanish. I’m editing a video where I recorded four songs with Greg Manning, John Robinson, and Abraham Laboriel. I wanted to show behind the scenes and how we interact.
Terry Wollman has been extremely industrious these past seven months of 2016…with every aspect of the music business, he always approaches his work with a smile, and with pure pleasure of his love for the creative process.
To find out more about Terry Wollman go to his website:
The link to the radio show: “Making It with Terry Wollman” http://entertalkradio.com/makingit/