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Terri Lyne Carrington's newest disc is her most focused and cohesive effort to date. The coproduction by the multitalented drummer with Yellowjackets electric bassist Jimmy Haslip may not be what fans of her hard bop or funk-driven projects would expect, but the music is bound to please discerning listeners. Structure is an atypical fusion date, combining elements of early ECM and M-BASE music into a heady concoction that is both physically and mentally stimulating. TLC leads the essentially cooperative quartet with Haslip, saxophonist Greg Osby and guitarist Adam Rogers through a program of mostly originals (three by the leader, two each from the other members) that assiduously avoid the popular song form.
Opening with her own pensive "Mindful Intent," the drummer announces her aim to create music that is cerebrally rewarding. Osby and Rogers alternate unison and counter melodies over Haslip's ominous bass and the drummer's percussion line, which utilizes an Afro-Cuban figure to give it a funky feel. Osby's dark brooding "Black Halo" follows in much the same atmospheric mood. On the date's one popular song, "Ethiopia," Carrington reveals herself to be a fine vocalist, delivering a heartfelt reading of Joni Mitchell's often ironic lyric. Rogers' "The Invisible" is a briskly articulated melodic line with a sense of urgency reinforced by the leader's idea compiling nonlinear rhythms. Haslip's "Spiral" is a lyrical line deliberately delivered to showcase the composer's melodicism.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.