Terry Callier enjoyed one of the most versatile and distinctive careers in the history of American jazz. His 50-year legacy ran the gamut from folk and soul to African chant and, of course, jazz. Few artists have covered as much musical ground with as little fanfare as Callier, who died Saturday at 67.
Callier was signed to Chess Records before graduating high school and released his first album, The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier, in 1968. While that record has since been hailed a classic for its hypnotic fusion of jazz, folk and soul, it failed to attract much attention at the time, and he struggled to land a career with any one label from then on. After releasing three critically lauded full-lengths in the mid-'70s, Callier left the music business to become a computer programmer in order to provide for his daughter. Upon his return in the '90s, he recorded with the likes of Paul Weller, Beth Orton and Massive Attack.
In 1998, Callier visited World Cafe to perform and talk about his musical inspirations, his religious beliefs and his time in the Chicago folk scene. Listen to the folk-jazz pioneer reflect on his life in music with host David Dye on this special edition of World Cafe.