CELEBRATING
50 YEARS

JazzTimes 10: The Composing Drummer (or the Drumming Composer)

A tentet of works by players who are as mighty with the pen as they are with the sticks

8. Terri Lyne Carrington: “Wistful” (The Mosaic Project, Concord Jazz, 2011)

Much of Terri Lyne Carrington’s writing is song-oriented, featuring lyrics and vocalists. “Wistful” features the latter, but used very subtly—Carrington’s wordless voice in a warm, beguiling mix. If there are no lyrics, it may be because the melody isn’t exactly lyrical; it’s complex, with wide intervals and sudden twists (which is also true of the harmony and rhythm). But its labyrinthine form nonetheless inspires bountiful solo work by bass clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and soprano saxophonist Tineke Postma. Moreover, it’s got an astonishing warmth and smooth flow that make it feel familiar and comforting, a formidable accomplishment in a composition as tricky as this one. It marks Carrington, acclaimed though she is for her virtuoso drumming, as an underrated composer.

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.