Grammy Nominee Carrington Working on Sequel
Posted 1/20/2014

When the Grammy awards are handed out on Jan. 26, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington will be hoping to take home the gold once again. Her 2011 album, The Mosaic Project (Concord), won a Grammy in the category Best Jazz Vocal Album.

At this year’s ceremony, her album Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue (Concord) is nominated in the category Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Carrington’s collaborators on the disc were bassist Christian McBride and pianist Gerald Clayton, who, ironically, will be competing against her in that category.

Alongside Carrington’s album, the other nominees are Clayton’s Life Forum (Concord), the Christian McBride Trio’s Out Here (Mack Avenue), vibraphonist Gary Burton’s quartet disc Guided Tour (Mack Avenue) and alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett’s Pushing The World Away (Mack Avenue).

DownBeat recently caught up with Carrington, who is working on a sequel to The Mosaic Project. That album featured some of the finest female musicians on the scene today, including pianist Helen Sung, vocalist Cassandra Wilson and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen. Carrington will be working with female musicians for the sequel, but this time it will be a different cast with a different focus.

“This one will speak to the relationship between jazz and r&b,” she explained. “When I was growing up, the kind of jazz I liked was very soulful. My dad used to play me a lot of organ-trio records by Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff as well as soul-jazz by Ray Charles and Stanley Turrentine. When I got older, I appreciated jazz that was more complicated and less based on the blues. But in the end, the blues is what it’s all based on. I like avant-garde stuff, too, and I end up playing a lot of that. But there’s nothing like the music you liked as a teenager.”

One of the tracks on The Mosaic Project was pianist Geri Allen’s composition “Unconditional Love,” which was recorded by Carrington, Allen, bassist-vocalist Esperanza Spalding and clarinetist Anat Cohen. The chemistry of the session was so contagious that Carrington, Allen and Spalding formed a trio named ACS after their last names. Much to their surprise, the combo wasn’t a passing whim but an ongoing ensemble.

“This is the first time I’ve been in a democratic band that actually stayed together,” Carrington said. “I’m feeling like every time we play I’m able to hone in on certain areas. We’re trying to be free by playing some standards and Wayne [Shorter] tunes. We rehearsed a lot to learn the repertoire, and then we went out and played the songs. It’s hard, though. Everyone’s busy and I live in Boston; Geri’s in Pittsburgh and Esperanza’s between New York and Portland.”

Provocative In Blue was inspired by Duke Ellington’s 1963 album Money Jungle, which he recorded with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach. The 2013 disc is a creative reinterpretation, with eight tunes from the Ellington album, supplemented by two originals by Carrington and a third from pianist Clayton. The album is proof positive that no matter how Carrington might love the music of her own time, she is deeply steeped in tradition.

To read DownBeat’s preview of the Grammys, click here.

Geoffrey Himes


Terri Lyne Carrington (Photo: Annette Brown)

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