Drummer Carrington tops lineup at Riverfront jazz fest

Players from he Mosaic Project, a record that won all-star jazz drummer Teri Lynn Carrington a 2012

When all-star jazz drummer Teri Lynn Carrington realized how many great women musicians she had played with over the last several years, it occurred to her to record an album with all-women musicians.

That effort culminated in the Mosaic Project, a record that won her a 2012 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Players from that record will perform with Carrington as the headline act Saturday night at the Riverfront Jazz Festival, which runs from noon to 9 p.m. and is free to the public.

“I wasn’t looking to make a political statement,” Carrington said of her all-female band. “I noticed I was playing with a lot of great women.”

Carrington, 47, who started playing at a world-class level 25 years ago, said it wasn’t possible to do the Mosaic Project back then. “Now there are so many great women players. I chose these players not only because they are women, but because I love the way they play.”

Port of Albany’s Riverfront Jazz Festival

When: Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: Albany Riverfront Park

How Much: Free

More info: www.albanyny.gov

A full-time professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston and artistic director for the Beantown Jazz Festival occurring later this month — a three-stage festival in Boston that attracts 70,000 people — Carrington still finds the time to write, play and record. Her sixth record is scheduled for release in February — a tribute to Duke Ellington’s 1962 “Money Jungle” record.

Spanning categories

While she often straddles the line between funk and jazz, she considers herself a player of both genres and questions the line of separation between the two. She describes her upcoming record, which features players of both genders, to be predominantly jazz, given that it’s a tribute to Ellington.

On Saturday night, Carrington will play with vocalists Nona Hendryx and Gretchen Parlato. Hendryx is a solo artist who sings funk and R&B, is known mostly for her singing as part of LaBelle, and particularly the song “Lady Marmalade.” Parlato is a modern jazz singer who uses her voice as a sophisticated instrument. In her mid-20s, she is routinely considered the next great jazz vocalist.

While these names will attract their own fans, Carrington is mindful of the drummers in the area who will come to see her chops. “I don’t think about trying to please people,” she said. “I try to play from the heart. I don’t have tricks up my sleeve. I try to seduce the listener, bring the listener to me by the groove factor, by finding the right places to stand out and step back.”

Intentional or not, Carrington’s choice to put all women on her stage and record is a form of political statement, given its rarity in rock and jazz. Two years ago, this reporter tracked the number of women on stage for 15 consecutive rock, pop and jazz shows over three months. The total came to 151 men, and eight women. Six of those women were the lead singers of the group, such as Bonnie Raitt and Annie Lenox. The remaining two played violin and flute.

Saturday’s jazz festival will also feature Pedrito Martinez, a New York City based percussion-driven Latin group; jazz-guitar great Charlie Hunter; trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, brother of famed Wynton and Branford, who has forged his own path in the jazz world; and Way Down, a local jazz fusion trio.

Categories: Life and Arts

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