Even for those who believe that everything comes around again, the resurrection of Terry Callier is a surprise: on the face of it, he would seem indelibly marked for an earlier time. With his husky baritone and his rapid-fire acoustic-guitar strums, Callier infused the folk-music realm of the 60s and 70s with jazz and R & B without sacrificing the political protest and humanist message of the time. Callier managed this trick with a little less fanfare and a lot more subtlety than that era’s other prominent African-American folkie: small wonder that many people came to think of him as a sort of kinder, gentler Richie Havens. But from his emergence as a Chicago original to his last recorded concert–a 1982 gig in the nation’s capital, which remained a secret until the imaginative local label Premonition Records released it last month as T.C. in D.C.–Callier sounded different, always played with a jazzier beat and sang with a lighter and more romantic swing than Havens. Those aspects of Callier’s music have only deepened over the last dozen years, during which the singer-songwriter retired from public performance to raise his daughter. But the acid-jazz crew in Britain rediscovered and started grooving to Callier’s first LPs (early-70s dates issued on Cadet), igniting new interest in his music, which spurred the reissue of some recordings, which in turn has led Verve to sign up Callier for an album of new songs, due in early 1997. Perhaps the only person not surprised by his new stature is Callier himself, who throughout his hiatus continued to study both voice and guitar. As a result, he emerges from the mothballs sounding as good as new and better than old. Callier will lead a band that reunites him with his accompanists from T.C. in D.C.–the suavely soulful bassist Eric Hochberg and the irresistible percussionist Pennington McGee–and adds in the wild reedman Richie Fudoli. Friday, 9 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage; 773-525-7793.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/ Marc Harris.