Terri Lyne Carrington: TLC & Friends

Debut from the then 16-year-old drummer, now jazz and gender justice campaigner, placed her alongside such luminaries as Kenny Barron


A true child prodigy, Terri Lyne Carrington, born 4 August 1965, began her professional career aged 10 when she became the youngest person to receive a musicians union card in Boston. At the age of seven, she was given a set of drums that had belonged to her grandfather, Matt Carrington and after studying privately for three years she played her first major performance at the Wichita Jazz Festival with Clark Terry. At the age of 11, she received a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music. 

Carrington has released a dozen albums as leader but recorded over 70 as sidewoman, including ones by Herbie Hancock, Diana Reeves, John Scofield and Wayne Shorter. At the 56th Grammy Awards, Carrington’s Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue (Concord Jazz, 2013) won the award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, making her the first female musician to win a Grammy in this category. Carrington is now founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, part of Berklee College of Music.

Her debut album TLC & Friends, reissue here, was recorded when Carrington was just 16 years old. The session was arranged by her father Sonny, a saxophonist and president of the Boston Jazz Society. On Cole Porter’s What Is This Thing Called Love? Carrington palpably drives the track along, culminating in explosively trading fours with George Coleman. La Bonita proves that Carrington can write good tunes as well as play drums outstandingly.

Coleman revisits the title track of Seven Steps To Heaven (Columbia, 1963) on which he played and Sonny Rollins’ St. Thomas is propelled by Buster Williams’ rumbling bass. Coleman imbues a lyrical feeling in the melody of Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are with exactly the right amount of finesse. Finally, Carrington’s father Sonny joins Coleman playing tenor on the closer Sonnymoon For Two. How many musicians achieve this level of competence and maturity at this age?

(1) What Is This Thing Called Love?; La Bonita; Seven Steps To Heaven; St.Thomas; Just The Way You Are; (2) Sonnymoon For Two (36.17)
(1) Carrington (d); George Coleman (ts); Kenny Barron (p); Buster Williams (b).
(2) add Sonny Carrington (ts). New York, 19 October 1981.
Candid Records CDCND32122 / LPCND32121