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Terri Lyne Carrington: for this busy drummer, the beat never stops

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Thursday August 15, 2013

From Music & Musicians

Musician, composer, professor—for this busy drummer, the beat never stops
By: Jeff Tamarkin

Hearing Terri Lyne Carrington rattle off the list of artists she’s drummed with is jaw-dropping: Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, Al Jarreau, Dianne Reeves, Carlos Santana, for starters. These giants and scores more of their stature seek her out for her airtight timekeeping, creative impulses and sensitivity as a player. Increasingly though, Carrington is gaining greater recognition for her skills as a composer and bandleader. She assembled an all-star, all-female cast for her Mosaic Project, which won last year’s Grammy for best jazz vocal album. Her latest, Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue, is equally ambitious. Working primarily with pianist Gerald Clayton and bassist Christian McBride, Carrington takes as the project’s basis pieces from Duke Ellington’s 1963 Money Jungle with Charles Mingus and Max Roach, embellishing on its concepts with spoken-word snippets and three new original compositions: two by her, the other by Clayton.
Carrington’s determination and assuredness has been a hallmark since childhood. The prodigy received a full scholarship from Boston’s Berklee College of Music at age 11—after she’d already performed at her first jazz festival. Carrington moved to New York in her late teens and became the house drummer for The Arsenio Hall Show. Since then she’s worked virtually nonstop, recording her debut album under her own name in 1989. In addition to her prolific studio and live work, Carrington, 47, is also a valued Berklee faculty member. Although she’ll soon be taking a break from that gig, it doesn’t mean she’s slowing down. “I’m producing Dianne Reeves’ next CD,” she says. “Then I’m going to do a Mosaic Project part two.” Carrington brought us up to date on her many projects during a recent commute to Berklee.

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