It took Terri Lyne Carrington 18 months to record the music that was floating around in her head.
“I had to take time with the CD and get out what I was hearing,” said Carrington, a Grammy Award winning drummer, composer and producer. “I hear a lot of stuff in my head.”
What resulted was one of her most personal CD’s to date, the Concord Records release, “The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul,” which combines her shout out to female artists by paying tribute to the myriad of male performers who influenced her professionally or enhanced her musicality.
To achieve such a tall order, Carrington enlisted the help of various powerhouse vocalists and instrumentalists—many of whom are her long-time friends and colleagues—Natalie Cole, Nancy Wilson, Gerri Allen, Chante Moore, Chaka Khan, Ledisi, and Lalah Hathaway. The male perspective was provided by many of music’s late great musicians like George Duke, Nick Ashford, Bill Withers, Luther Vandross and Duke Ellington.
Charismatic actor Billy Dee Williams provides intuitive spoken word segues throughout the 12-song disc.
“Billy Dee asked if he could be on the record and I told him that I was doing an all-female album and he said ‘who’ s better to be on a female CD than me?’ and I said OK,” Carrington recalled.
Those collaborations created a masterful record that is pleasing to the ear from beginning to end.
“I really wanted people to be able to listen to the whole record from top to bottom,” explained Carrington. “On this record I consciously wanted to celebrate the various relationships that women have with men either through original songs of mine or cover songs by male composers and song writers.”
Carrington’s love for all things musical run deep. Her grandfather, Matt Carrington, played drums with Fats Waller and Chu Berry. When her grandfather passed away, her father, saxophonist Sonny Carrington, set the drums up and at the age of 7, Terri Lyne ‘caught the bug.’
As a child, she would go to nightclubs with her father and sit in on jam sessions with Dizzy Gillespie, Roland Kirk and numerous other Jazz legends who wanted to hear the pint sized prodigy play the drums.
By the time she was 10 years old, Carrington was performing at the Wichita Jazz Festival. A year later the 11-year-old was offered a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
While most little girls were playing with Barbie dolls at that age, Carrington was jamming with Elvin Jones and other Jazz greats. When she turned 18, the Medford, Mass, native had moved to the big apple and instantly started performing with the likes of Pharaoh Sanders, and The New York Jazz Quartet.
Soon after Carrington moved to Los Angeles and began performing with Jazz musicians Wayne Shorter and David Sanborn. At that time she began touring with the legendary Herbie Hancock—a gig she would have for 20 years.
“I learned a lot from Herbie (and Wayne) during those years,” Carrington said. “They taught me how to not separate music and life. The most important thing that an artist can do is do what is honest and true to them.”In the 1980s Carrington began writing and producing. She received her first Grammy nomination at the age of 23 for her “Real Life Story,” which featured Shorter and Carlos Santana. She gained more recognition on the late night TV circuit as the house drummer for the Arsenio Hall Show and then again in the late ‘90s as the drummer on the Quincy Jones late night TV show, “Vibe” hosted by Sinbad.
“Those TV shows were many moons ago but I had many great experiences playing with Whitney Houston, James Brown and others. That time was a real high light in my career,” she said.
In 2011 she won her first Grammy Award for “The Mosaic Project,” which featured female artists Esperanza Spaulding, Cassandra Wilson and fellow drummer Sheila E.
Carrington didn’t sit back on her laurels after earning the coveted Grammy. She began teaching the next generation of music legends at Berklee College of Music. She has been a professor there since 2003.
Riding high off the success of “The Mosaic Project,” Carrington released “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue” in 2013. It was her ode to Duke Ellington, Max Roach and Charles Mingus to coincide with their 50th anniversary of the release of their 1963 album, “Money Jungle.” Carrington was the first woman in history to win a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.
Now she’s back with “The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul.”
“I tried to make a record where I like every track and on this record I do,” she said happily. “I wrote or co-wrote six of the songs and I’m proud of that. All of the Jazz and Soul elements are there.”
(For more information on Carrington or to purchase her music, visit her official website at www.terrilynecarrington.com.)
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