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Visionaries: Terri Lyne Carrington, Jazz Prodigy

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Tuesday April 24, 2012

from wbur.org

Visionaries: Terri Lyne Carrington, Jazz Prodigy
By:Meghna Chakrabarti

BOSTON — Terri Lyne Carrington was a prodigy. She was born in 1965 to a musical family in Medford. Her grandfather, Matt Carrington, was a Boston session drummer who played with Duke Ellington and Fats Waller. He died before Terri Lyne was born. But his drums stayed in her family’s house. The kit was there, waiting for her, when she first picked up a set of drumsticks at 7 years old.

“I started playing his instrument, and I felt a connection with him,” she said. “I feel like somehow his spirit came into mine.”

It wasn’t long before her mother, Judith, and her father, saxophone player Sonny Carrington, realized their daughter had jaw-dropping natural talent.

“I’d go to clubs with my dad and sit in with people like Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Dizzy Gillespie and Clark Terry — a lot of jazz legends because my dad knew them,” Carrington recalled. “And they were curious to hear me play.”

Not just curious. They were astounded. She was only 10, barely tall enough to see over the drums, when she played the Wichita, Kan., Jazz Festival in 1976. A year later, Lawrence Berk, founder of the Berklee College of Music, heard her play and offered the 11-year-old a full scholarship.

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