The Music Division welcomes jazz drummer, composer, bandleader, producer, and educator Terri Lyne Carrington as the 2021 Library of Congress Jazz Scholar. In a field where female instrumentalists’ presence is scarce, Carrington is a powerhouse three-time GRAMMY award-winning recording artist, drummer, Doris Duke Award recipient, NEA Jazz Master, and Founder and Artistic Director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. She is an artist of tremendous talent, dedication, and endless musical possibilities. As part of her engagement and together with pianist Kris Davis and bassist Linda May Han Oh, Carrington will present a virtual performance of her project, Terri Lyne Carrington Trio: The New Standards.
Carrington’s journey started at a young age playing the saxophone. At age seven, little Terri Lyne lost her front teeth and replaced the saxophone with the drums. As a saxophonist himself, her father introduced her to the jazz world and supported her music education. She remembers going to jazz clubs with her father and meeting the masters. Carrington grew up surrounded by great mentors including B.B. King and Dizzy Gillespie. At age 10, she started her professional career, becoming the youngest person to receive a union card from the Boston Musicians’ Association. At age 11, she received a full scholarship from Berklee College of Music. In her career, she has recorded and toured with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Dianna Krall, Yellowjackets, and many more jazz figures.
In the late 80’s Carrington moved to Los Angeles, gaining recognition on late-night television as the house drummer for both the Arsenio Hall Show and Quincy Jones’ VIBE TV show. Her debut GRAMMY-nominated album, Real Life Story, was released in 1989. Her 2012 GRAMMY Award-winning album The Mosaic Project featured an all-women cast of instrumentalists and vocalists, including Dianne Reeves, Geri Allen, Dede Bridgewater and Esperanza Spalding. Her 2014 GRAMMY Award-winning album Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue made her the first woman to win in the best jazz instrumental album category. Her 2019 release, Waiting Game, was a 2021 GRAMMY-nominated album focused on social justice issues affecting our society.
For her upcoming virtual performance at the Library, Carrington has prepared an all-women-composer program titled The New Standards with pieces by Mary Lou Williams, Geri Allen, Maria Schneider, Esperanza Spalding, Kris Davis, Tia Fuller, Ingrid Jensen, and Carrington herself. The program advances these pieces as worthy additions to the traditional, primarily men-composed jazz standards. The New Standards will potentially open a new door of empowerment, equity, and opportunity for current and future jazz women instrumentalists. We will find out more about this topic during the interview that we will conduct with Carrington. The conversation will stream on our website on April 23, 2021.
As part of her mini-residency, Carrington has recorded a unique set of five educational videos on jazz drumming fundamentals. The videos will demonstrate drumming techniques like the shuffle groove, the ride cymbal pattern, five-stroke roll, jazz swing with triple independence and Afro-Cuban jazz rhythms. These video recordings will be available on our website starting on April 21, 2021.
Carrington is a prominent voice on social justice issues in the jazz world. Through her work as Founder and Artistic Director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, Carrington and a team of educators recruit, mentor, and advocate for students with gender and racial justice as guiding principles. In a recent panel discussion at the SFJazz, she talked about her struggle to recruit Black students. She struggles watching how this music tradition that for decades has been taught in the field, in the jazz clubs, and in jamming sessions, is now taught in practice rooms, creating a barrier between the haves and the have-nots.
As the field opens up to new perspectives and reflects on some of its standard practices, Carrington embraces new sounds. During the 2021 Jazz and Race panel discussion with Angela Davis, Rhiannon Giddens, and Nate Chinen, she shared that women have been trying to fit in, always careful not to play too loud or too soft, and trying to play like a man. For Carrington, it wasn’t until 2011, when working with Geri Allen and Esperanza Spalding in the ACS Trio, that the notion of comfort and safety as a woman jazz instrumentalist came to the surface. In the last decade, she has discovered new subtle sounds from recognizing and owning her femininity as a drummer. As jazz women instrumentalists discover their sounds, she hopes the field embraces and supports them.
Please join us on Saturday, April 24th at 8 pm for the premiere of Terri Lyne Carrington Trio: The New Standards. As a special treat, Carrington will join us during the virtual concert on the comment section of our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/libraryofcongressperformingarts. The performance is free and open to the public. This program is presented with the generous support of the Revada Foundation of the Logan Family. Founded in 2016, the Foundation sponsors the arts and social justice, primarily in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. For more information, please visit our website at loc.gov/concerts.