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Dejan Terzic AXIOM

  • Dejan Terzić
  • Chris Speed
    Sax, Clarinet / trumpet
  • Bojan Z.
    Piano, Fender Rhodes
  • Matt Penman
Booking-territory: worldwide

After more than 20 years of touring and numerous CD recordings, Dejan Terzic has become a highly sought-after and outstanding drummer in the European jazz scene. Over the years he has toured and recorded with Joe Lovano, Lee Konitz, Bob Berg, Nils Landgren, George Garzone, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Lionel Louke, Gary Thomas, Roy Hargrove, Enrico Rava, Paolo Fresu, Franco Ambrosetti, Tom Harrell, Till Brönner, Marc Ducret, Mike Formanek, Jerry Bergonzi, James Moody, Antonio Farao, Django Bates, Palle Danielsson, Rita Marcotulli, Mark Helias, Chris Speed, Dusko Goykovic, Tim Hagans, Dominique Pifarely, Michel Godard to name a few. Dejan has become a fixture on the European jazz scene. He has recorded over 100 CDs as a sideman. In recent years he has begun to concentrate on his own projects. In these works he also appears as a composer of original music.




Dejan Terzić drums

Dejan was born in Banja Luka in what was then Yugoslavia.

His family moved to Germany when Dejan was 3 years old. He began playing piano at the age of 6, and took up drums at 12, playing art first in rock and funk groups. His induction into the world of jazz came through the back door. Listening to Sting‘s album „Bring On the Night“, he was grabbed by the playing of pianist Kenny Kirkland and saxophonist Branford Marsalis. It was at this point that his exploration of the world of jazz began in earnest. In the summer of 1991 Terzic journeyed to the Vermont Jazz Center, run by the legendary Hungarian guitarist Attilla Zoller. Attilla proved to be a major influence on Dejan, encouraging him, and clueing him in on the subtleties of group dynamics and improvisation. During the same summer Terzic became a member of New York‘s Drummer‘s Collective, where he studied with among others, Marvin Smitty Smith and Bill Stewart.

Back in Germany, Dejan began studying at the conservatory in Wurzburg where he met up with drummer Bill Elgart, one of the most original creative players on the scene. Terzic‘s comment was, „… he brought me to some really different stuff…“ The next few years were hectic ones, filled with studies and gigs. His playing began to catch the ears of both musicians and the public – and his playing began to gather in the prizes – Young Bavarian jazz Lion 94/95, Best Drummer Krakow Festival 94, Best Drummer, Leipzig Festival 95, Best Musician, International Jazz Festival Oberkochen, 95. Nuremberg Cultural Prize, 97. Jazzprice by the City of Munich in 2004.

Chris Speed sax,clarinet

Chris Speed (b. Seattle, Washington, 1967) is an American saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer. He studied classical piano from the age of five, and began clarinet at eleven. In high school he took up the tenor saxophone and began studying jazz. He later attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Speed has lived in New York City since 1992.

He leads or co-leads the groups Pachora (with Jim Black, Skúli Sverrisson, and Brad Shepik); Human Feel (with Andrew D‘Angelo, Black, and Kurt Rosenwinkel); yeah NO (with Black, Sverrisson, and Cuong Vu); and Trio Iffy (with Ben Perowsky and Jamie Saft). The latter two groups predominantly feature Speed‘s compositions.

Well-known avant-jazz groups Speed has performed with are Tim Berne‘s Bloodcount (with Berne, Jim Black, Michael Formanek, and sometimes Marc Ducret); The Claudia Quintet (with John Hollenbeck, Matt Moran, Ted Reichman and Drew Gress); Jim Black‘s Alasnoaxis (with Black, Sverrisson, and Hilmar Jensson); and The Clarinets (with Oscar Noriega and Anthony Burr). The Collaboration with Dejan Terzic began in 2003 with Dejan’s former Band Underground.They have released 4 Albums together.

Bojan Zulfikarpasic piano, fender rhodes

He started playing piano at the age of 5. As a teenager, he started playing in bands on Belgrade jazz scene, where he received an award as the Best Young Jazz Musician of Yugoslavia award in 1989. In 1986 studied with Clare Fischer at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. He was influenced by the traditional Balkan music playing in an army orchestra during his military service in former Yugoslavia, which would influence all his subsequent work. He moved to Paris in 1988, playing with Noël Akchoté, Julien Lourau, Magic Malik, Marc Buronfosse, Henri Texier and other renowned French musicians.

In 1993, he recorded the debut album with his Bojan Z Quartet with Label Bleu, followed by Yopla!. In 1999, he was engaged in multi-ethnical project Koreni (Roots) with musicians such as Karim Ziad from Algeria, Kudsi Erguner from Turkey, and Vlatko Stefanovski from Macedonia.

His solo piano album Solobsession (2001) brought him wider worldwide recognition. On Transpacifik (2003) he started collaborating with American jazz musicians Scott Colley and Nasheet Waits, and continued on Xenophonia (2006) with Ben Perowsky and Ari Hoenig, as well as Frenchman Remi Vignolo.

He often uses the combination of acoustic piano with Fender Rhodes electric piano, often playing them simultaneously, and recently is claimed to be the inventor of „Xenophone“, a hybrid instrument, based on the customized Fender Rhodes electric piano. It can be heard on Xenophonia.

In 2002 Bojan Zulfikarpašić was granted the title of Chevalier de l‘ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government and received the Prix Django Reinhardt for Musician of the Year from the French Académie du Jazz, and in 2005 he was granted the European Jazz Prize as the Best European Jazz Musician.

Matt Penman bass

Originally from New Zealand, Matt Penman moved to the U.S in 1994 to attend Berklee College of Music, and in 1995 to New York, where he maintains an international performing, recording and teaching schedule as one of jazz music’s most in-demand bassists.

He is an established member of the SFJazz Collective, an 8-piece composer’s collective devoted to presenting the original works of its members as well as arrangements of the jazz greats‘ oeuvre. The Collective features some of the finest composer/improvisers on the scene, including Mark Turner, Stefon Harris and Miguel Zenon. In 2009, Matt founded a collaborative quartet with Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks and Eric Harland called James Farm. The band released their debut album in 2011 on Nonesuch Records.

In addition to his main projects, Matt performs regularly with John Scofield; in trio and in quartet with Joe Lovano. He is a member of Nils Wogram’s Root 70, and Breve, a drummer-less trio with Hayden Chisholm and John Taylor.  Other collaborators have included Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kenny Werner, Dave Douglas, Chris Cheek, Seamus Blake, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Guillermo Klein, Rebecca Martin, Nicholas Payton, Fred Hersch and Madeleine Peyroux.

As a teacher, Matt has led workshops throughout Europe, and was an Artist- in- Residence at the Brubeck Institute in Stockton, California in 2007. He was also on the faculty of the 2009 Banff Workshop for Creative and Improvised Music.

Matt‘s projects as band-leader include the co-led album ‘Flipside’ (Naxos, 1998), ‘The Unquiet’ (2001) and ‘Catch of the Day’ (2008), both on the Barcelona label Fresh Sound. He is featured on well over 100 recordings on various labels.


“Abstract, accessible, intelligent” Rolling Stone

” The four musicians (…) create a shared magic that you rarely get to hear”Jazzthing

Born in Banja Luka, grew up in Nuremberg, a professor in Bern – the cosmopolitan Dejan Terzić is one of Europe‘s most renowned drummers and bandleaders. His new album is a brilliant milestone in his biography.“ Jazzthetik

Rhythmic virtuosity, fast tempos, minimalist, repetitive patterns, free floating parts. PROMETHEUS impresses with its expressive composition, bite and precision. Chris Speed, Bojan Z, Matt Penman and Dejan Terzic work together inseparable.” Jazzthing

„…une musique aux multiples facettes dont la singularité combine subtilement liberté et contrôle, valeurs apparemment contradictoires.Dejan Terzic ne se limite pas a la fonction de time keeper, mais plutôt celle de catalyseur d’énergie d’un quartette a forte identité sonore.“Jazz Magazin France, 4 Stars

„…l’edification d’une musique d’aujourd’hui que l’on peine a classifier, ce qui est plutôt bon signe“CultureJazz France

„…Nonostante la multidirezionalita, il lavoro e indubbiamente coerente e logico nel metodo, nelle architetture e nelle intriganti finalità espressive.“Audio Italia


“Silent Dancer” (Cam Jazz)

When music becomes an adventure again … It’s been five years since Berlin drummer Dejan Terzić released “Prometheus”, the first album by his top-class band Axiom. High time for a successor. But when he tackled this one, no one suspected that everything would be completely different with the second strike.

It reads like a Wild West story in the middle of Europe. At first, everything began normally. Terzić had written new material and drummed up his Magnificant Four from all corners of the world. Pianist Bojan Zulfikarpašić (better known as Bojan Z. on his own recordings) traveled from France, saxophonist Chris Speed from California and bassist Matt Penman from New York. They rehearsed the material, rejoiced that the old band spirit had even solidified, and went on tour. A couple of concerts in Germany kicked things off, and from there they headed to Banja Luka, Bosnia, Terzić’s birthplace. That was in March 2020. Déjà vu? One gig later, the band received a call that their concert dates in Italy were canceled because a previously unknown virus under the euphemistic name Corona had struck. However, the new album was to be recorded in Udine, Italy. What to do? Could the band leader justify taking his band members to a Corona hotspot under the given circumstances? They took heart, boarded a completely empty plane in Budapest and took off for an equally deserted Venice, from where they continued to Udine.

In the studio, everything felt normal at first, and yet it was not a normal session, because in the face of the threat of death all around, the gang of four literally played for their lives. An intensity that translates directly into the music. Due to the cancelled gigs, they were able to take more time in the seclusion of the studio than initially estimated, but the way back from Italy was once again adventurous. Simply going over to Ljubljana was not possible. You had to take a bus to the Slovenian border, walk over to the neighboring country and be picked up there by another bus. “Just like in the days of the Iron Curtain,” Terzić laughs with some detachment. Once again, art plays tricks on current politics.

If one had to place the recordings on “Silent Dancer” under a motto, it would probably be playing culture. The focus of all participants always remains on the whole, and yet intuitively every detail, every nuance, no matter how tiny, is formulated to perfection. The musicians of Axiom are very similar in nature. Four supervirtuosos with more individual experiences in their knapsacks than could be listed here, who without exception are at the service of the music with every My of their self-awareness. In this context, the drummer aptly speaks of a common existential urge. Each song tells its own story, the tension of which is based, without exception, on a healthy mixture of lightness and seriousness. Even though the musicians’ homes are thousands of miles apart, Axiom is not a singular project, but a solid band. The interlocking of intentions and playing attitudes results in a common habitat within whose boundlessness one can allow oneself absolute freedom. The drummer highlights yet another commonality, which at first glance seems like a coincidence, but at second glance is anything but coincidental based on the four personalities. “One unifying element is that we have all played with Nils Wogram. He is basically our greatest common denominator.”

Which brings us to another essential point of this recording. The instrumentation has something very autobiographical for Dejan Terzić. He has known Bojan Zulfikarpašić since his earliest youth. His uncle was the music teacher of the later pianist, who in turn played in a band with Terzić’s cousin at the time. They liked each other, but lost track of each other at some point because one of them moved to France and the other lived in Germany, until their separate paths inevitably crossed again and they decided to set up something together. The spirit of the shared youth experience is still palpable. Chris Speed first heard Terzić when he lived briefly in Nuremberg in the 1990s, where Terzić had been at home since 1989. For a few weeks they even shared an apartment. After a concert by Speed with his alter ego Jim Black in a small Nuremberg club of those days, the saxophonist declared that he only played with friends. This maxim was to be deeply etched in Terzić’s mind and also comes to bear on “Silent Dancer” (the album title refers to his daughter Néa). Starting in 2002, Terzić and Speed recorded several records with their band Underground. In turn, he met Matt Penman when he filled in on various occasions in Nils Wogram’s band Root 70. A solid playing relationship developed between the drummer and the bassist, which forms the elastic framework for Axiom. The intimacy with which the four musicians are connected here is reminiscent of a rock band, where the overall sound matters more than individual performances. “There are no sidemen in this band. I don’t really like the concept of sidemen and leader anyway. No matter what each of us does in other projects, Axiom has a sound that no other band has.”

This cohesion is all the more important because the tracks on “Silent Dancer” are extremely diverse. The basic concept of most of the pieces is based on ideas that borrow from minimal music in the spirit of Steve Reich to Brandt Brauer Frick, but the lived improvisational fleshing out carries the individual songs off in very different directions, degrees of density and states of aggregation. From serenity to rage, from almost inaudibly growing grass to the force of a volcanic eruption, there is room for every feeling in Axiom’s diversified minimalism. From a huge selection of new material, Terzić deliberately chose those pieces for the recording that seem as different as possible, knowing full well that they will be formed into a whole by the band in this constellation.

Possibly “Silent Dancer” would have become a completely different album under other external circumstances. But who knows?! Either way, the record is a powerful statement of the power of art in a society at the limit, which not only opens perspectives, but can manifest itself regardless of all external obstacles, strong and unwavering.

Wolf Kampmann (Berlin, March 2021)

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