Terri Lyne Carrington on the Road with Mosaic Project Members and Others

Photo by Tracy Love

Sheila E. said that one day when she grows up, she wants to be just like Terri Lyne Carrington.  Terri is that heavy, and she has really done it with her most recent solo work on GrooveJazz Media/Concord Music Group, The Mosaic Project.  This woman-dominated album won a Grammy© this year in the category of Best Jazz Vocal Album.  I’m glad attention continues to be brought to The Mosaic Project.  I believe it to be a very important piece of work that will stand the test of time.  I can’t get enough of it.

If you sit down with this album in your ears, you can imagine the textures of an Indian tapestry as you glide your fingertips across the surface.  Sounds, time signatures, voices, generations, activism, swing, sensuality, harmony and dissonance, funk.  The cast of musicians is stellar.  From Dianne Reeves, Geri Allen, Esperanza Spalding, Patrice Rushen to Nona Hendryx, Gretchen Parlato, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Mimi Jones, Angela Davis, Cassandra Wilson and more.

I recently attended Terri’s show at Harlem Stage.  It had been a minute since I was this exhilarated by a live performance.  With Terri on drums/percussion; Helen Sung, piano;  Tia Fuller, sax; Mimi Jones, bass; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet/flugelhorn; Nir Felder, guitar and Lizz Wright & Nona Hendricks on vocals, the performance surprised and transcended.  These women, and Nir, the one gentleman playing this gig, are monsters, each and every one of them.  They swam through prime cuts on the album and midway through the show Lizz Wright came out and delivered a ridiculously dope Simply Beautiful, which on the album is sung by Cassandra WilsonShe stayed on stage and the band played two cuts from Lizz’s Salt album – Open Your Eyes You Can Fly and Walk With Me, the latter on which Nona Hendricks came out and joined her.  It was a great moment for music.  Another highlight for me was when Nona Hendryx sang one of the most ravaging renditions of Strange Fruit that I’ve ever heard.  There’s a conversation between her and Tia Fuller on sax that is psychedelic in its sorrow as they weep heaving cries of pain together.  I was week in the knees by the end of the song.

I spoke with Terri about the experience of creating an all-woman album.  I asked if it was refreshing to not have the typical patriarchal dynamic that women run into with most projects.  It’s refreshing, but I feel like everyone has to work together because that’s how the world is…man woman, cultures, age groups.  I love how The Mosaic Project represents different age groups.  I work with men all the time so it was refreshing to have a female driven project although it’s not unusual.  But I’ve never spearheaded it quite like that – on the level of sensitivity on various fronts it was nice.  It’s a feminine statement, but it’s not – really at the end of the day we want to make good art.  No question she succeeded.

Terri will be joining Geri Allen and Carrie Mae Weams, along with other Mosaic Project players for Slow Fade to Black on June 15th at Celebrate Brooklyn! 2012.  Terri promises to provide a sophisticated and exciting musical experience.  I highly recommend taking her in whenever you can.  You’ll never forget it.

Making of “The Mosaic Project”

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