Take Five: A Salute to NEA Jazz Masters

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Thursday April 22, 2021


Take Five: A Salute to the NEA Jazz Masters Class of 2021
By: Nate Chinen

The 2021 NEA Jazz Masters cover a dizzying range of style between them, and more than 200 years of working experience. Below, find tributes in the form of one track apiece, plus a wildcard. And don’t miss the photos in our slideshow above, most taken by WBGO’s own Jonathan Chimene.

Tune in to the NEA Jazz Masters virtual ceremony this Thursday, April 22, at 8 p.m. ET, on the air at WBGO 88.3 FM and here at

Terri Lyne Carrington, “Giggles”

Drummer, composer and bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington has received no shortage of accolades over the last decade ‘” a period that saw her win three Grammy awards and a Doris Duke Artist Award along with this honor from the NEA. But Carrington, a former child prodigy, has been an unstoppable force since well before the turn of the century.

So it seemed like a good time to revisit Jazz Is a Spirit ‘” her second album, released on the ACT label in 2002. The album features Herbie Hancock as a heavyweight cameo, and Wayne Shorter as a guiding spirit. But on “Giggles,” a Carrington original with a playful melody and a willfully modern sensibility, the focus falls squarely on tenor saxophonist Gary Thomas, and the way he sparks against a rhythm section with Robert Hurst on bass, Paul Bollenback on guitar and Greg Kurstin (yes, that Greg Kurstin) on piano. Listen to how much dynamic sensitivity Carrington brings to the beat, especially behind a guitar solo that opens by citing Shorter’s “Nefertiti.”

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