Terri Lyne Carrington Is Having Too Much Fun

Categories: all that jazz

Geri Allen (l), Terri Lyne Carrington (c), Esperanza Spalding (r)
Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington is a tremendous link to the history of jazz. Her grandfather played the traps behind Fats Waller and Chu Berry. Her father, Sonny, was the president of the Boston Jazz Society. She was immersed in the sounds from birth and appears to have paid a lot of attention because for over thirty years she has been at the forefront of modern jazz drumming. Recently, she teamed up with pianist Geri Allen and bassist Esperanza Spalding (Best New Artist Grammy Winner, enemy to all Beliebers) to form the all-star trio ACS.

Carrington is a good mentor for Spalding because she is well familiar with the pressures the jazz world can place on a young, talented woman's shoulders. Carrington was only 11 years old when she nabbed a full scholarship to Boston's Berklee School of Music after playing with legendary pianist Oscar Peterson. She attended the college while balancing her adolescence, committing full-time after graduating from high school. She returned to Berklee in 2003, not quite forty, to receive an honorary doctorate. Spalding was a student at the time, already garnering acclaim for her effortless command of the upright bass, having finished high school at the age of 16.

Bop drummer Max Roach was a major supporter of Carrington when she was getting started. "He was one of my earlier influences. He was a mentor too of sorts. He tried to get me a record deal when I was a kid with Blue Note Records. I was really thrilled and flattered." For her debut as a leader with Polygram records at the age of 24, she called in a few favors, employing jazz giants like Wayne Shorter, John Scofield, Carlos Santana and Grover Washington Jr to fulfill her dreams but the relationship with big-money record labels was not meant to be. A Grammy nomination boosted Carrington's sales but also muddled her self-expression. A follow-up album was recorded but ended up shelved as Polygram tried to turn her into an R&B star. She didn't return to the recording studio as a bandleader for more than a dozen years.

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