Terri Lyne Carrington: New Standards Vol 1

The drummer's female-focused album is the antithesis of angry protest: great tunes, instinctive arrangements, harmonic richness, stellar input

2003

When Gretchen Parlato penned the swirls of her chart Circling one wonders if she envisaged what drummer and composer Terri Lyne Carrington’s band and the planetary guests she assembled for this album would make of it. The band’s core quintet is infused with contributions from 15 musicians, including Dianne Reeves, Ravi Coltrane and Ambrose Akinmusire. The album forms part of Carrington’s long-term mission to bring jazz women and female jazz composition in from the margins.

Her project, with so much of the distaff side to reinstate from the perimeters to which male-orientated jazz history has consigned and confined it, might be expected to call forth a more strident voice. But the album, comprising 11 tracks by women composers, is the antithesis of (justifiably) angry protest: great tunes, instinctive arrangements and harmonic richness – all of it sequinned by stellar input, not least by Reeves on Eliane Elias’s Moments and Michael Mayo on the aforementioned Circling.

Bassist Linda May Han Oh introduces Patricia Perez’s Continental Cliff, a quintet track guided principally by Nicholas Payton’s trumpet into dizzying regions that Oh keeps in check and an added wind trio, arranged by Edmar Colon, lightly burnishes. The trio also appears on two other charts. And to what high exultation do vocalist Samara Joy and saxophonist Coltrane lift the Carla Bley/Carrington tune Two Hearts. Only a curmudgeon would dispute that it invokes no less than Billie Holiday and Lester Young.

Carrington combines discretion with a nevertheless huge presence as both joint arranger (on nine tracks) and kit-person/percussionist on all. Guest flautist Elena Pinderhughes is the mainstay of Shamie Royston’s Uplifted Heart, joined by Coltrane and Val Jeanty’s electronica. In a characteristic act of accommodation, Carrington makes room for percussionist Negah Santos on four tracks, not least the Africa-influenced Throw It Away, by Abbey Lincoln, which sports a sweet vocal from Melanie Charles.

Though powered by low-octane motor energy, Carrington’s opening mission statement is a hit. The skill with which it blends without cloying 20 kaleidoscopic talents in combination is high artistry, if not genius.

Discography
Wind Flower; Circling; Uplifted Heart; Moments; Continental Cliff; Throw It Away; Respected Destroyer; Two Hearts (Lawns); Unchanged; Ima; Rounds (58.53)
Carrington (d, pc); Kris Davis (p); Linda May Han Oh (b); Nicholas Payton (t); Matthew Stevens (g). Guests: Ambrose Akinmusire (t); Melanie Charles, Samara Joy, Michael Mayo, Dianne Reeves, Somi, Shadrack Oppong (v); Ravi Coltrane (ts); Val Jeanty (elec); Julian Lage (g); Elena Pinderhughes (f); Negah Santos (pc); Milena Casado Fauquet (flh); Anabel Gil Diaz (f); Veronica Leahy (bcl). Vermont, New York, Boston, no date.
Candid CCD 32012