Episode 16-Terri Lyne Carrington: Changing the Faces of Jazz

Question: What would jazz music sound like if it had been born in a country without patriarchy; taught without bias and performed on a stage with radical inclusivity? That’s what jazz titan Terri Lyne Carrington says is the foundation behind Berklee College of Music’s Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. Terri Lyne is the founder and artistic director of the Institute and a professor at Berklee, her alma mater.

In this episode of Strictly Jazz Sounds, I spend time with Terri Lyne Carrington, getting deep into this question along with how to lift women and nonbinary individuals in this historically male dominated industry, creating a new bandscape that reveals the multitude of different voices in jazz.

Terri Lyne is a drum major for women and nonbinary individuals in the jazz ecosystem. She’s also a highly successful drummer/percussionist, a bandleader, composer and producer, an artistic director of a couple of organizations, a writer with two books, and an educator.

On Terri Lyne’s website, she displays many photos of the extraordinary talent that she met through her musician father’s friends. You see her standing between drummers Roy Haynes and Tony Williams; Art Blakey is sitting on the floor next to Terri Lyne while she plays the drums; another has Buddy Rich next to her while she’s on the drums. Not your typical teenager’s hangout of friends nor upbringing experiences.

She readily acknowledges her home environment was one of privilege and enriching for a young prodigy. Terri Lyne dedicates her life to reaching back to today’s young women and nonbinary individuals bent on changing the faces of jazz, on and behind the bandstand.

We most certainly spend time on her 2023 Grammy winning album New Standards Vol. 1 on the CANDID label and the related book “New Standards Vol. 1: 101 Lead Sheets by Women Composers,” published by Berklee Press.

Two tracks of music from the album are included in this episode. The personnel for the album: Terri Lyne Carrington-drums/percussion; Kris Davis-piano; Linda May Han Oh-bass; Nicholas Payton-trumpet; and Matthew Stevens, guitar. 

Uplifted Hearts by Shamie Royston; featuring Ravi Coltrane-tenor sax; Val Jeanty-electronics; Elena Pinderhuges-flute; Negah Santos-percussion; and Shadrack Oppong-spoken word.

Throw It Away by Abbey Lincoln; featuring: Somi-vocal; Melanie Charles-vocal; and Negah Santos-percussion.

Terri Lyne Carrington’s portfolio is extensive, bold, and rich. If you are unfamiliar with it, I encourage you to check it out and listen to her music in her discography.

The next episode of Strictly Jazz Sounds will be in early 2024. I’m taking some medical time off until then. This is the first year of this podcast. Thanks so much to all my guests and to you for making this a great year for me. If you have not subscribed, do so. You’ll be one of the first to know when a new episode is released. Support live jazz wherever you are. Be safe. Steve Braunginn

Thanks to CANDID Records for the music. Photo of Terri Lyne Carrington by Michael Goldman

Listen on Libsyn