Waiting Game (Motéma)

Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science

Released November 8, 2019

DownBeat Five-Star Review

Allmusic Favorite Jazz Albums 2019






Terri Lyne Carrington has announced an ambitious double album, Waiting Game, out November 8 on Motema Music and recorded with her new band Social Science.  The multi-GRAMMY® award-winning drummer, producer and educator boldly confronts a wide spectrum of social justice issues over the course of this double LP.  Social Science is built around the friendship and collaboration of Carrington, pianist/keyboardist Aaron Parks (Terence Blanchard, Kurt Rosenwinkel) and guitarist Matthew Stevens (Christian Scott, Esperanza Spalding), along with multi-instrumentalist Morgan Guerin, vocalist Debo Ray, and MC/DJ Kassa Overall.

Adding to the multi-dimensional sound of Waiting Game is an impressive host of guests including rappers Rapsody, Kokayi, Raydar Ellis and Maimouna Youssef (aka Mumu Fresh), trumpeter Nicholas Payton, bassists Derrick Hodge and Esperanza Spalding, vocalist Mark Kibble of Take 6 and spoken word contributions from Meshell Ndegeocello and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.

The second half of the double album is a compelling improvised suite, with Esperanza Spalding (bass) joining Carrington, Parks and Stevens for an adventurous excursion musing on the idea of personal and musical freedom.

Today (August 21), the first two tracks from Waiting Game have been released: “Bells (Ring Loudly)” addressing racial profiling and police brutality, featuring Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Debo Ray, and an excerpt from the improvised suite, “Dreams And Desperate Measures.”

A host of issues are confronted on Waiting Game, from mass incarceration (“Trapped in the American Dream”), police brutality (“Bells (Ring Loudly)”), homophobia (“Pray the Gay Away”), the genocide of Native Americans (“Purple Mountains”), political prisoners (“No Justice”), and gender equity (“If Not Now” and “The Anthem”).  Galvanized by seismic changes in the social and political landscape, Terri Lyne founded the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice and simultaneously formed this band, while also being inspired in particular by the work that Black Youth Project 100 is doing, a youth organization founded in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the killing of Trayvon Martin.

“In previous projects I’ve hinted at my concerns for the society and the community that I live in,” Carrington says. “But everything has been pointing in this direction. At some point you have to figure out your purpose in life. There are a lot of drummers deemed ‘great.’ For me, that’s not as important as the legacy one leaves behind.”

Track Listing:

1. Trapped in the American Dream (Kassa Overall / Aaron Parks) 07:05

2. Bells (Ring Loudly) (Terri Lyne Carrington / Aaron Parks / Malcolm Jamal Warner) 06:26

3. Pray the Gay Away (Terri Lyne Carrington / Brian Ellis / Kassa Overall) 07:29

4. Purple Mountains (Matthew Stevens / Carl Walker) 04:52

5. Waiting Game [Acapella] (Terri Lyne Carrington / Antoni Vaquer Grimalt) 04:05

6. The Anthem (Marlanna Evans / Aaron Parks) 07:08

7. Love (Joni Mitchell) 06:13

8. No Justice (For Political Prisoners) (Terri Lyne Carrington / Meshell Ndegeocello) 06:21

9. Over and Sons (Matthew Stevens) 07:56

10. If Not Now (Terri Lyne Carrington / Matthew Stevens / Maimouna Youssef) 05:28

11. Waiting Game (Terri Lyne Carrington / Antoni Vaquer Grimalt) 04:03

12. Dreams and Desperate Measures, Pt. 1 17:34

13. Dreams and Desperate Measures, Pt. 2 06:45

14. Dreams and Desperate Measures, Pt. 3 12:06

15. Dreams and Desperate Measures, Pt. 4 05:52


Terri Lyne Carrington: drums, vocals

Derrick Hodge: bass (1, 2, 10)

Aaron Parks: piano, keyboards, vocals

Matthew Stevens: guitar

Kassa Overall: turntables, vocals

Esperanza Spalding: bass (7, 12-15), vocals

Morgan Guerin: saxophone, EWI, bass (4), drums

Nicholas Payton: trumpet (3)

Malcolm-Jamal Warner: spoken word (2)

Jeremy Harman: cello (3, 12-15)

Matthew Stubbs: clarinet (12-15)

Wendy Rolfe: flute (Disc 2)

Chris Fishman: keyboards (3)

Edmar Colon: keyboards (3)

Nêgah Santos: percussion (3)

David Drance: violin (3, 12-15)

Layth Sidiq: violin (3, 12-15)

Mimi Rabson: violin (3, 12-15)

Meshell Ndegeocello: spoken word (8)

Mark Kibble: vocals (5)

Debo Ray: vocals (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11)

Rapsody: spoken word (6)

Kokayi: turntables (4)

Maimouna Youssef: vocals (10)

Raydar Ellis: turntables (3)

Recorded February 9-11, 2017 at Wellspring Sound Studio, Action, MA

Produced by Terri Lyne Carrington

Co-Produced by Aaron Parks and Matthew Stevens

Recording Engineer: Matt Hayes

Editing Engineer: Dean Albak

Mix Engineer: Jeremy Loucas

Mastering Engineer: Joe LaPorta


Terri Lyne Carrington never has shied away from discussions of social justice. And in addition to featuring voices like civil rights activist and author Angela Davis on several projects, Carrington initiated Berklee College of Music’s Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice in 2018. But hardly anything she’s done previously can prepare listeners for Waiting Game, a two-disc masterstroke on par with Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 hip-hop classic, To Pimp A Butterfly, or better yet, Carrie Mae Weems’ 2016 multimedia production, Grace Notes: Reflections for Now. Waiting Game absorbs a lot of the Black Lives Matter movement’s simmering fury—as well as the #MeToo movement—and converts it into artistic fuel, as she also addresses homophobia and the genocide of Native Americans. Similar to Weems, Carrington excels at articulating piledup, conflicting emotions and the mental fatigue induced by the insistent bombardment of social ills. Her keen focus on song-based compositions during the album’s first half helps shape thematic clarity, as does the scintillating rapport she’s struck with her band, Social Science. A foreboding heaviness permeates the album’s first disc, as if to convey an unending series of social injustices and the stress of being caught in that cycle. The somber “Trapped In The American Dream” sets the tone as Carrington’s martial beats, pianist Aaron Parks’ repetitive riff, and guitarist Matthew Stevens and vocalist Debo Ray’s howling chorus provide a dirge over which Kassa Overall raps about a canopy of horrors. Inside the interrelated obstacles discussed here is police brutality, particularly against people of color. Carrington, though, puts that into sharper focus during “Bells (Ring Loudly)” on which Ray sings from the perspective of a grieving mother after her child’s been killed by the police. The tempo quickens to a Crescent City bounce on the biting “Pray The Gay Away,” a mocking rebuke of gospel singer Kim Burrell’s 2016 homophobic rant. Underneath the Middle Eastern-flavored melody and Nicholas Payton’s lacerating trumpet solo, one hears the antidote — “pray the hate away.” Carrington dedicates Waiting Game’s second disc to “Dreams And Desperate Measures,” a wondrous four-part orchestral suite that begins with a gossamer arrangement of haunting woodwinds, melancholy strings, a pensive guitar, piano and bass, all in dialogue. The extended improvisation gradually evolves into an undulating groove, propelled by Esperanza Spalding’s elastic bass ostinato. After receiving a Doris Duke Artist Award, Carrington concludes another triumphant year by releasing an utterly ambitious project, a recording that could be the best jazz album of the year.

John Murph (DownBeat)