Teri Parker (MA, BMus) is a jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader based in Toronto, Canada. Born into a musical family, Parker gravitated towards the rich history and creative possibilities of jazz while still in high school; when it came time to apply for post-secondary schooling, she was accepted into the University of Toronto’s prestigious Jazz Studies program. It was at U of T that Parker had the opportunity to study with prominent educators who would prove foundational in her development as an artist, including celebrated instrumentalists and composers such as Dave Restivo, David Braid, and Phil Nimmons, Director Emeritus of Jazz Studies. After graduating from U of T, Parker continued her studies independently; as the winner of successive grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council, she was able to continue learning with world-renowned artists in New York and Europe, including Sophia Rosoff, Aaron Goldberg, Guillermo Klein, Fred Hersch, and Enrico Pieranunzi.
In 2021, Parker completed an MA in Composition at York University, where she studied with Randolph Peters, Stephanie Martin, and Noam Lemish. During her time in the MA program, Parker honed her abilities in jazz composition and was exposed to a variety of different techniques from the classical world, allowing her to bring a deeper sense of nuance and artistry to her own music. She also had the opportunity to learn more about jazz from an ethnomusicological perspective, taking an intersectional approach to the study of jazz history, and learning more about the stories of performers, composers, and music-industry professionals whose work has not always been recognized within standard historical narratives.
An engaging, driven performer, Parker is a fixture on the Canadian jazz scene, and has performed in a variety of ensembles as both a sideperson and a bandleader. She has played at a number of major national festivals, including the Toronto Jazz Festival, the Halifax Jazz Festival, and the Guelph Jazz Festival, and is a regular at some of Canada’s most prominent jazz venues, including the National Music Center, The Rex, and Jazz Bistro, as well as live on air on JAZZ.91 FM. In demand as an educator, Parker has also worked regularly as a teacher and clinician, maintaining a popular private music studio, as well as appearing as an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
In 2018, Parker founded a new group: Free Spirits, an ensemble that celebrates the music of venerable jazz pianists Mary Lou Williams (1920-1981) and Geri Allen (1957-2017). Initially conceived as a project that would honour the hidden histories of women in jazz, Free Spirits has expanded into a major compositional outlet for Parker, who, in the midst of her MA, won a scholarship for her five-part suite “Peaks and Valleys,” written for Free Spirits. In September 2021, Parker was the recipient of a Toronto Arts Council grant to record a new album with Free Spirits featuring “Peaks and Valleys,” as well as other originals and covers of Williams and Allen songs.