Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Terri Lyne Carrington Interview

Sorry for the delay, folks; I recently interviewed Terri Lyne Carrington for the Berklee Groove. I've written an article about her that features a number of quotes from this, but doesn't have the whole thing. Consider yourself forewarned; it's pretty long. Here is the unedited Q&A:

Jazz Monster: How do you think the show went on Friday?
Terri Lyne Carrington: It was good; it wasn’t perfect. I didn’t have a working a band and the band I was with couldn’t rehearse until the day before, so we made our share of mistakes. People seemed to really enjoy it though.

JM: I know you teach at Berklee- do you think of playing in Boston as playing on home turf?
TLC: Well, I only play here a few times a year. Because of the fact that I teach here and the audience is made up of students for the most part [at the BPC], there’s a little bit more pressure than in other places- but that can be exhilarating. Last night we started a bit late and the sound wasn’t optimum, sometimes there are just some sound issues onstage.

JM: After your gig at the BPC, you flew out to Germany. Is there a difference between playing in Boston and playing in Luxembourg?
TLC: Yes, there is. We played in a town about a half hour out from Luxembourg, and so that alone made it very different from playing in Boston. It was a nice show; the only holdover from the gig we played in Boston was the horn player, Tineke Postma.

JM: How did your current group come together?
TLC: Generally it’s not exactly the same group. There are some people I’ll use for some things, but usually it just depends on who can make a show. I often use [pianist] Geri Allen, Arwan Akiv, [Bassist and Berklee graduate] John Lockwood, or [bassist and recent Berklee graduate] Hogyu Hwang. Sometimes I do projects with all women, and that line-up generally features myself, [bassist and Berklee faculty member] Esperanza Spalding, Tineke Postma and Geri Allen. When I want a guitar player I usually get a guy named Tim Miller, who is also on faculty here at Berklee. In Poland, where I’m playing in a week, I’ll be playing with Tim Miller, Hogyu Hwang and [Berklee student] Alex Han. Overall, I guess it just depends on the gig.

JM: Do you write most of the material in for your band?
TLC: I write most of it, yes. Sometimes band members contribute songs; the other night at the BPC we played a song by Tim Miller even though he wasn’t there, but I’d say that I write most of the songs we play.

JM: How do you go about writing tunes?
TLC: Generally I hear a melody in my head, and then I add harmony. Sometimes I write the harmony first, but not as often; whenever I finish with the melody and the harmony, I figure out the bass and drums.

JM: How did your album “Structure” come about?
TLC: That band [which featured saxophonist Greg Osby, guitarist Adam Rogers and bassist Jimmy Haslip] came about for a tour of Europe under a deal I had with my record company at the time. It was my deal, but it was a very cooperative group; after the tour we went and recorded the album.

JM: Any plans to reunite that group in the future?
TLC: Who knows? We’ve all got very different schedules; we all have our own careers. It would be nice though.

JM: Switching gears, how does your educational work affect your playing?
TLC: I think that teaching definitely makes me better as a player. There are certain things you have to explain; you have to come up with formulas and exercises. It’s brought more clarity to my playing, and it keeps me fresh as a player.

JM: How do you approach your work as a side-person versus your work as a leader?
TLC: I think the two are totally different. As a side-person, I’m trying to accommodate the leader and be honest to the music. As a leader I have my own vision that I’m trying to work toward. I suppose it just comes down to different roles: you’re either the vision-driver or the vision-supporter.

JM: What’s the difference between working in a strictly jazz setting versus working on The Arsenio Hall Show or [Sinbad’s show] Vibe?
TLC: It’s a very different sound, especially in the drums. In a band like the Arsenio band, you just want to play really strong groove-oriented stuff, whereas in a jazz setting you want to be more creative. I suppose there are different freedoms in both.

JM: What are your plans for the near future?
TLC: I’m recording with Mike Stern in January, and then soon after that I’ll be recording Tineke Postma’s new album. My own new album, which is more of a groove-jazz oriented kind of thing, is just about done with mixing and post-production, so it should be out in February or March. Also, I’m excited to take my band with Esperanza Spalding, Gary Thomas and Arwan Akiv out to play at the Blue

1 comment:

They call me Vic Bradley... said...

Long? Give us more. Perhaps it is just because I'm not of the "sound-bite" generation actually have read War & Peace and Pynchon. Talk about long. Anyway, just fooling here but thanks for the nice intv. TLC is a class act and a sweetheart.
Vic B