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10/04/11

Terri Lyne Carrington
The Mosaic Project
Concord Jazz

Terri Lyne Carrington occupies a frustrating niche. You’d be hard-pressed to find a “women-in-jazz” article or radio program that excludes her, yet at the same time her undeniable prowess and power as a drummer has led some to brand her “one of the guys”—as if the very notion of a female skin-pounder is somehow unnatural.

This time around, Carrington, more than two decades into her career, runs with the women-in-jazz idea and celebrates it in grand style. Her most ambitious and important album as a leader to date (her fifth in all), The Mosaic Project is populated by an all-female cast that includes some of the biggest names in jazz, among them Cassandra Wilson, Anat Cohen, Esperanza Spalding, Nona Hendryx, Sheila E., Dee Dee Bridgewater and Geri Allen. Each participant shines, from Ingrid Jensen’s trumpet and flugelhorn lines to Chia-Yin Carol Ma’s violin to the Angela Davis spoken-word commentary that leads into the stunning “Echo,” sung by Dianne Reeves and penned by Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock. Carrington’s percussion and kit playing is potent throughout.

But the great beauty of The Mosaic Project is that it never gives a listener any reason to mull over the fact that it was crafted entirely by women—or, at least no more than one would give thought to the fact that the vast majority of jazz recordings are made exclusively by men. Carrington, who produced and arranged the recording, chose the album’s title for good reason: The Mosaic Project, whose cover art is built upon hundreds of tiny photos of women, is all about what happens when seemingly unrelated elements coalesce into a greater, cohesive whole.

Originally published in October 2011
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