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Interviews

Meet Terri Lyne Carrington

By Published: March 1, 2002
Bass and drums have a connection in whatever style of music you play. The connection is a little different depending on where you are. With jazz the pulse is created by the bass and the ride cymbal. That has to be locked. If you hear a bassist and drummer where one is behind the other there's a problem. With rock it's more groove-oriented. The kick drum has to be really locked with the bass. You have to make a switch to some degree. You can make great music with someone you don't know. It depends on the style: if it's just straight groove it's not as important. When you're playing things where the time is elastic you have to really trust each other. Sometimes that's harder to do if you don't get along with somebody. I used to play with my eyes closed—just using my ears. I still do that sometimes but a lot of times I look over and say, "It's me and you. Come on, let's do this." If you look somebody in the eyes while you're playing it's very personal. You have to like them, definitely.

Favorite bassists to play with

In the acoustic world John Patitucci
John Patitucci
John Patitucci
b.1959
bass
and Anthony Cox
Anthony Cox
Anthony Cox
b.1954
. I just started playing with Bob Hurst here in L.A. On the electric scene Matthew Garrison
Matthew Garrison
Matthew Garrison
b.1970
bass, electric
with Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
. In Europe Lars Danielsson
Lars Danielsson
Lars Danielsson
b.1958
bass
is very talented. I played on the Vibe show for a year. We had a lot of bass players, and I liked playing with all of them. The guy who was there the longest was Alex Al.

Big band drumming

The only steady big band thing I did was in college, the International Dues Band with Phil Wilson
Phil Wilson
b.1937
, the trombone player. He was a teacher at Berklee. I'll read big band charts when I go to colleges as a guest in their concerts or in workshops. Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider

band/orchestra
is amazing. I enjoy playing her stuff, but for the most part I'd rather play with smaller bands. I like the Duke Ellington Orchestra because of the colors he utilized. Obviously Gil Evans
Gil Evans
Gil Evans
1912 - 1988
composer/conductor
—that's where Maria Schneider comes from. I love listening to big bands like Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
and Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
1908 - 2002
vibraphone
.

Jo Jones

I knew him very well. He came and stayed at our house sometimes. Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
drums
introduced me on the To Tell The Truth show when I was 11, but that morning I had breakfast with Papa Jo. [Contestants had to guess whether Carrington was actually a jazz drummer. As someone who heard her at the time (at the Famous Ballroom in Baltimore) I can testify she could play.] I had a strong relationship with Papa Jo, Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
drums
, and a lot of drummers—that doesn't happen so much now. It's a different community. The world is larger, and people move around so much. People are busy.

Alan Dawson—learning to play drums

Alan was an early influence on me. He lived in my neighborhood in Boston for a long time. Then he moved two towns over, 15 miles away. He didn't take me on as a student until I was 14 years old. He didn't want to discourage me or have me too disciplined. Before that I studied with John Wooley, Keith Copeland, and Tony Tedesco who helped me with reading and got me on shows that came through Boston. I studied vibes with Alan as well. He played vibes incredibly. He had a way he taught everybody. He developed technique and independence between the four limbs— that was the most important thing at the time. Once you get that together you can hear something, process it, and actually play it because you've developed this coordination. I do want to start taking lessons again. When you get older there are a lot of bad habits that creep in, and you forget some things. Freddie Gruber is someone I want to start taking lessons with.

Jack DeJohnette I met Jack De when I was a teenager and he and his wife, Lydia, took me under their wing, allowing me to go visit whenever I wanted—a home away from home. I really learned a lot about life during those times. Great music normally comes from great human beings, I find. Jack is among the finest, not to mention one of the baddest drummers the world has seen.


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