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Meet Terri Lyne Carrington

Craig Jolley By

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With jazz the pulse is created by the bass and the ride cymbal. That has to be locked... With rock it's more groove-oriented. The kick drum has to be really locked with the bass.
Drummer/composer Terri Lyne Carrington found her voice early. Unlike other child prodigies she was not transfixed by her early success and has continued to grow musically. Besides her brilliance as a drummer she is now established as a bandleader and producer. She records and tours with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and many others.

New CD: Jazz Is Spirit (The ACT Company)

Wayne Shorter said "Jazz means, No category." I want to take the listeners to places. They may interpret and point to different directions, not just to the same sound as other recordings. I think I do that with some of the twists and turns. For example "Journey of Now" has kind of a world music flavor. "Journey East From West" is a small interlude, and it has a Spanish feel. "Mr. Jo Jones" is kind of historical to me. "Jazz Is" (the first piece) and "Jazz Is A Spirit" (the last piece) both utilize spoken word done by Malcolm-Jamal Warner—I wrote it and he performed it. I feel like the record is true to the jazz idiom even though there are a few places where I utilize elements that have evolved from the hip-hop world or spoken word. We have a few samples and some programming, but that's a very small part of the record. The point is not to be locked into one theme if your interests are in many places—why not use those elements in your music even if your music is jazz. I love all styles, and I've left a little to the imagination to the listener. The CD will be available in Germany the end of February, 2002. It will not be released until September, 2002 in the U.S. People can order it through my web site now. I have a European tour coming up April 7-17 to support the record and another one in July.

Logistics of recording the CD

I got some studio time from a friend of mine. He encouraged me to come in and try out some things. I thought if I was going to do that I might as well make a record. I only had a week to prepare. When I started to do the record I called up all my friends. I had talked to Gary Thomas before this had come up. We were talking about doing our own projects—not waiting for labels to finance us. I immediately called him. I used some frequent flier miles to get him out here in two days. Greg Kurstin was the only person I didn't know. He was recommended by Bob Hurst. Greg does a lot of different things. Herbie Hancock lives here in L.A. I had to try to schedule it around when he was available. I'm sure Gary and Paul [Bollenback] would have played anyway, but when they found out Herbie was going to do it that got everybody excited. Kevin Eubanks lives here. Wallace Roney came through town a couple weeks later so I got him to play on some stuff. Terence Blanchard was available after that, and I needed him to play trumpet.

Shopping the recording

I only sent it to four people: two European labels and two U.S. labels. Siggi Loch of ACT Music had been recommended to me by an attorney in New York. A guitarist I know, Nguyen Le, who also records for ACT recommended Siggi. I sent it to him, and he was very enthused. I didn't really do a major shopping ordeal—I went with what felt right.

Composition

Ever since I can remember I've written music. When I started at seven or eight years old I would sit down at the piano and bang out tunes. Also I studied composition and arranging at the Berklee College of Music. I don't differentiate between playing and composing in my artistry— the totality of it is more important than the individual side. Personally my writing is as important as my playing and I like to sing, too. Most of the songs I write start at the piano—actually they start in my head. I'll hear melody or harmony or an idea. I'll go to the piano and try to figure out what I heard through both the "Journey" pieces from the CD started on the drums. I do my own orchestrations for small group projects. I just wrote something for a ballet, "The Coming of Dawn," that's going to be performed March 16-17 in Denver. I got some help on that. I won't be able to attend the performances because I'm on tour during that time but I'm going to try to get there for rehearsals. It's been in the works a long time. A friend of mine Charles Mims co-wrote the first half— that was performed here in L.A. by Winifred Harris' Between the Lines. The second half was co-composed by another friend, Ed Barguiarena. Ed's going to orchestrate the whole thing for ten pieces.

Musical connection with bassists

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