Terri Lyne Carrington — Jazz Is a Spirit
(ACT 9408-2, 2002, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2003-08-01
The talent of a prodigy does mature after a time, especially if surrounded by competent mentors in the entertainment industry. Terri Lyne Carrington came up from several very notable early appearances with jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson before attending Berklee College of Music at age eleven. Since that time she has expanded her jazz vocabulary into strong compositional work offset by her capable drumming style. Jazz Is a Spirit is only her third solo album after a string of many sessions supporting Wayne Shorter and Diane Reeves. She is still surrounded by many famous contributors including Malcolm-Jamal Warner (from The Cosby Show) on bass for two tracks and some vocal extemporizing. Carrington’s songwriting style on eight of her own pieces is deep into melodic counterpoint while covering many traditional faucets of the jazz spectrum focusing on the soloing talents of Gary Thomas on tenor sax. Herbie Hancock’s piano solo on the album’s second track, “Little Jump,” is a high mark on the disc as it displays his reliable melodic prowess within the confines of a small combo. A few other interesting tidbits include Carrington’s solo drum workout “Journey Agent” and “Middle Way,” a mid-tempo jaunt for the joint leads of Terence Blanchard and Thomas. Probably the best song out of the fourteen tracks is the classy “Samsara (for Wayne)” which is a ballad propelled by Hancock’s warm piano and Kevin Eubank’s Wes Montgomery-like emotive guitar solo. Overall it is works such as this that keep the jazz tradition alive and well in the United States and abroad.
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