The Mosaic Project (Concord Jazz)

Terri Lyne Carrington & Various Artists

Released July 19, 2011

Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album 2012



For more than two decades, drummer, producer and vocalist Terri Lyne Carrington has crafted an eclectic brand of jazz that incorporates elements of bebop, soul, funk and much more. Since her debut in 1989, the GRAMMY®-nominated artist has established a reputation for assembling artists of varying styles and perspectives to create music that adheres to the traditions of jazz yet speaks to a much broader and more diverse audience. Carrington brings this same diverse sensibility to her new recording The Mosaic Project, an album that once again gathers a myriad of voices and crystallizes them into a multi-faceted whole that far outweighs the sum of its parts.

“Everything about this recording is about making a larger picture out of many various elements,” says Carrington, who produced the 14-song set. “I assembled several friends – most of whom I’ve performed with in the past, and all of whom bring their own individual story – to help me create the big picture. For as talented as each of them are as individuals, when I put them all together, I have a much greater musical story – one that can be told in an interesting and compelling way.”

Included on that list of friends are some of the most prominent female jazz artists of the last few decades: Esperanza Spalding, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sheila E., Nona Hendryx, Cassandra Wilson, Geri Allen and several others. Carrington says the emergence of so many great female jazz artists is what finally makes an album like The Mosaic Project possible, more so now than in decades past.

“If I had tried to do something like this in the past – like when I started playing 25 years ago – I might have felt limited by the pool of available musicians,” she says. “But now there are so many talented women whom I’ve been playing with anyway – not just because they’re women but because I love the way they play. So it has become easier to do a special project that celebrates the artistry and the musicality of these women.” Clearly, Carrington’s picture is never quite what it seems. With so many individual voices and perspectives in the mix, the results are often eye-opening and ear-opening. “There’s one part of me that’s kind of a jazz head who likes complex, thought provoking melodies and harmonies,” she says. “And then there’s another part of me that really likes funk and pop and things that are accessible. This record is another chance for me to assemble all of these great musicians to help me combine those different aspects of myself – those different pieces – and create something special in the process.

Track Listing:

1. Transformation (Nona Hendryx / Carol Pope / Kevan Staples) 5:33

2. I Got Lost in His Arms (Irving Berlin) 4:58

3. Michelle (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) 6:52

4. Magic and Music (Terri Lyne Carrington) 3:45

5. Echo (Bernice Johnson Reagon) 7:14

6. Simply Beautiful (Al Green) 4:30

7. Unconditional Love (Geri Allen) 5:56

8. Wistful (Terri Lyne Carrington) 4:48

9. Crayola (Esperanza Spalding) 4:29

10. Soul Talk (Terri Lyne Carrington / Nona Hendryx) 5:55

11. Mosaic Triad (Terri Lyne Carrington) 5:59

12. Insomniac (Terri Lyne Carrington) 5:13

13. Show Me a Sign (Carmen Lundy) 2:28

14. Sisters on the Rise (A Transformation) (Nona Hendryx / Carol Pope / Shea Rose / Kevan Staples) 3:59


Terri Lyne Carrington: drums, additional percussion, voice (2, 4, 5, 11, 13, 14)

Geri Allen: piano keyboards (1, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13)

Dee Dee Bridgewater: voice (10)

Anat Cohen: clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax

Angela Davis: commentary (5)

Sheila E.: percussion (1, 5, 6, 10)

Nona Hendryx: voice (1, 14)

Ingrid Jensen: trumpet, flugelhorn, efx

Mimi Jones: bass (4)

Carmen Lundy: voice (13)

Chia-Yin Carol Ma: violin

Hailey Niswanger: flute

Gretchen Parlato: voice (2, 3)

Tineke Postma: alto sax, soprano sax

Dianne Reeves: voice (5)

Shea Rose: voice (14)

Patrice Rushen: piano, keyboards (2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12)

Esperanza Spalding: bass, voice (7, 9)

Helen Sung: piano, keyboards (2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12)

Linda Taylor: guitars

Cassandra Wilson: voice (8)

Recorded at Systems Two
Additional Recording LeGonks West, Los Angeles and Back Room Drums, Burbank, CA Produced by Terri Lyne Carrington

Executive producers: Terri Lyne Carrington, Robert Hebert, Frank White

Associate Producer: Bernie Yaged

Engineers: Mike Marciano, Erik Zobler, Chaye DeGasperin, Jeremy Loucas

Mixing: Martin Walters (1-13) and Jeremy Loucas (14)

Mastering: Paul Blakemore

Photography: Tracy Love


Historically, female artists have not gotten the props they’ve deserved in jazz’s male-dominated environment. Though imperfect, things have improved, thanks in part to the efforts of Billie Holiday, Mary Lou Williams, Marian McPartland, and other matriarchs who helped pave the way for a current generation of stellar voices as assembled in drummer/composer Terri Lyne Carrington’s exceptional The Mosaic Project. 
Carrington’s world-class drumming equals anyone in the music business, enriching recordings and performances from the great Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter to the eclectic sounds of guitarist Nguyen Le, while finding time to lead her own bands and music. Without a doubt, this project is her most ambitious work to date, an arduous yet rewarding labor of love that’s elevated by her leadership of an all-star cast of female musicians and singers. 
The opening “Transformation” sets the vibe, with its groove intellect and smoky vocals from legendary soul singer Nona Hendryx. It’s followed with more funky goodness, a very unique take on Irving Berlin’s “I Get Lost in His Arms,” sung by one of jazz’s new stars, Gretchen Parlato. There’s even more to enjoy with the up-tempo remake of The Beatles’ ballad “Michelle,” as hard-swinging jazz melds with urban funkiness, pumped by riveting solos from pianist Geri Allen, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and saxophonist Tineke Postma. 

Like a mosaic the fourteen tracks are smaller pictures of Carrington’s broader image, one that knows jazz’s ancestry but speaks fluently of haunting social issues in “Echo,” via spoken words from activist Angela Davis, along with Dianne Reeves adding her always classy singing. Add the heartfelt longing of “Show Me a Sign” (written by singer Carmen Lundy) and the hip hop swagger of “On The Rise (A Transformation),” featuring up-and-coming singer Shea Rose, and the set represents a continuum of sound and voice from the past, present and future. 
With a roster that includes the star power of percussionist Sheila E and pianist Patrice Rushen, the talent is exhaustive and varied with memorable tracks such as Cassandra Wilson’s sensual ruminations of Al Green’s 1972 hit, “Simply Beautiful,” the whimsical antics of “Crayola,” written and performed by Grammy Award-winning bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding and featuring Helen Sung’s lissome keyboards, and Carrington’s own complex rock/jazz piece, “Mosaic Triad.” 
The Mosaic Project has no ulterior motive to show that women can do the jazz gig as well as men. That’s already been proven time and again. Instead, it is a joyous celebration of outstanding female artists; a clear view of what currently exists and a hint of what’s on the horizon.

Mark F. Turner (All About Jazz)