Keith Terry knows all about the binding power of rhythm. Whether he’s seated behind a drum kit or using his entire body as a percussion section, the Oakland musician has spent much of his life bringing together ensembles designed to usher already singular musicians into unfamiliar sonic terrain.
His work as a primary conceptualist behind the international body music movement has taken place mostly outside the U.S. for the past decade due to the State Department’s restrictive visa policies for international artists. But he’s continued to tap into the Bay Area’s deep talent pool. Celebrating his 70th birthday at Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage on Nov. 22, Terry performs with the four overlapping ensembles that he’s primarily working with these days, including Corposonic, a long-running trio featuring Terry on body music, beatboxer Steve Hogan and Bryan Dyer on bass vocals. They’ll be joined by special guests Rhonda Benin on vocals and Jackeline Rago on four-string Venezuelan cuatro.
Laying down intricate rhythmic skeins built around Terry’s expansive body music vocabulary, Corposonic showcases his highly physical practice, employing heel clicks, chest thumps, foot stomps, mouth pops and thigh slaps. “It’s such an unusual trio that it sounds like a funny vehicle for backing up guest artists, but it’s a wonderful, quirky thing,” Terry said.
Corposonic has spent many years working out how to play together, but the recently minted trio Outdoor Cats is still very much a work in progress. Featuring Terry on drums, Jazz Mafia tuba player Jonathan Seiberlich and trombonist Jeff Cressman, who toured the world with Santana from 2000–2016, the group came together during the pandemic while playing driveway sessions.