As you enter the San Francisco University High School Middle Campus building from Washington Street, you can feel the energy pulsating through the air. You can hear the melodic voices of students singing and acting; you can hear music coming from various spaces and the ever, unmistakable, joyous sound of laughter. There is no question this building contains our Arts Department. On this floor, in a small office, shared with a colleague, you will find UHS faculty member, Terrence Brewer. He teaches Music, Western Civ., Jazz and numerous music projects.
Brewer initially learned to read and play music on the recorder, in the fifth grade, and that experience sparked a passion in Terrence. That passion would lead him to not only play the clarinet and saxophone before heading into high school but to pick up the guitar. As a teenager he was drawn to rock and roll, Hendrix, Zeppelin, Sound Garden and even some Rage Against the Machine. In college, he quickly switched majors from woodwind performance to guitar performance, likely changing the trajectory of his award-winning musical career. When I asked Brewer who he would choose if he could perform with any musician dead or alive, his answer was simple, "Hendrix and Coltrane."
Today, Brewer finds inspiration for his music in everyday things; however, when a song isn't gelling, he has to go back to the songwriting process and technique. "Kind of like a sculptor with a chisel" Brewer states, "I've got to try all these different things; all these different writing exercises I've learned and a lot of times some really good stuff comes out of that."
Brewer is not just a faculty member at UHS, or jazz musician, he is also an in-demand bandleader, record producer, studio musician and concert performer. He has also been running his record label, Strong Brew Music, for well over 10 years. Brewer was inducted into the Pittsburg Entertainment and Arts Hall of Fame in 2016 and has won the SF Weekly "Best Jazz Artist" Award, the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce "Artist of the Year" Award and the Bay Area Blues Society "Best Jazz Group" Award. He is also on the Advisory Board at the Museum of Jazz & Art (MOJA) and an Artistic Advisory Committee Member with Jazz in The Neighborhood. But in the end, teaching is a passion for Brewer. "I don't feel like I could just be an academic and I don't feel I could just be a performer," he notes. "Teaching has always been a part of what I've done; I couldn't imagine my life without teaching." Brewer adds, "what music does for people, for their hearts and their minds and their souls, and their spirits is immeasurable and it’s that intangible thing – music is a soundtrack for all of us."
Most recently Brewer graced the stage at the 2019 Monterey Jazz Festival with celebrated blues vocalist, Pamela Rose, in support of their new album: Don't Worry 'Bout Me – Remembering Ella & Joe. If you missed them at the Jazz Festival, you can find their new album here: www.terrencebrewer.com.