Artist: Terri Lyne Carrington
Release Date: August 7, 2015
Format: CD, MP3
Drummer, composer, and sometime vocalist Terri Lyne Carrington has had an illustrious career, touring with countless acts in the jazz and pop worlds and developing a strong solo career of her own. A highlight of Carrington’s solo career was the first entry in her Mosaic Project series in 2011. One of the key elements of the first Mosiac release, which is repeated in its second installment, 2015’s The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul, is that Carrington plays with all-star, all-woman bands. While all-female bands have a history in jazz of being a gimmick for novelty acts, Carrington’s project is no oddity. Her reason for assembling an all-woman band, as is readily apparent from listening to this release, is that that these women can play. There are two deviations from this format: the songs included that aren’t original compositions were written by men and actor Billy Dee Williams appears throughout the disc performing spoken word.
While Carrington is often billed as a jazz drummer, the music on this release tends more toward R&B and neo-soul—she draws quite heavily from the Questlove playbook as drummer, arranger, and producer. The comparison to The Roots drummer and neo-soul leader doesn’t end there—this record captures the true Soulquarian spirit through the album’s collaborative aesthetic. Carrington features a guest vocalist on each cut, from firmly established artists such as Chaka Khan, Valerie Simpson, Nancy Wilson, and the late Natalie Cole to more underground sensations like Jaguar Wright and Lizz Wright. Even though these guest stars would imply a very diverse record, each track has a both neo-soul bent and is characterized by exquisite attention to detail. Carrington and company arranged and performed each song carefully and treat these tunes with the necessary nuance to effectively evoke the titular love and soul, both of which are in abundance on this album. The Mosiaic Project: Love and Soul is a strong effort by a group of musicians who are truly pros–these musicians have monster chops and, more importantly, impeccable taste.
Reviewed by Matthew Alley