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The Mosaic Project

4.5 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 19, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

For more than two decades, drummer, producer and vocalist Terri Lyne Carrington has crafted an eclectic brand of jazz that incorporates elements of bebop, soul, funk and much more. Since her debut in 1989, the GRAMMY®-nominated artist has established a reputation for assembling artists of varying styles and perspectives to create music that adheres to the traditions of jazz yet speaks to a much broader and more diverse audience. Carrington brings this same diverse sensibility to her new recording The Mosaic Project, an album that once again gathers a myriad of voices and crystallizes them into a multi-faceted whole that far outweighs the sum of its parts.

"Everything about this recording is about making a larger picture out of many various elements," says Carrington, who produced the 14-song set. "I assembled several friends - most of whom I've performed with in the past, and all of whom bring their own individual story - to help me create the big picture. For as talented as each of them are as individuals, when I put them all together, I have a much greater musical story - one that can be told in an interesting and compelling way."

Included on that list of friends are some of the most prominent female jazz artists of the last few decades: Esperanza Spalding, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sheila E., Nona Hendryx, Cassandra Wilson, Geri Allen and several others. Carrington says the emergence of so many great female jazz artists is what finally makes an album like The Mosaic Project possible, more so now than in decades past.

"If I had tried to do something like this in the past - like when I started playing 25 years ago - I might have felt limited by the pool of available musicians," she says. "But now there are so many talented women whom I've been playing with anyway - not just because they're women but because I love the way they play. So it has become easier to do a special project that celebrates the artistry and the musicality of these women."

Clearly, Carrington's picture is never quite what it seems. With so many individual voices and perspectives in the mix, the results are often eye-opening and ear-opening. "There's one part of me that's kind of a jazz head who likes complex, thought provoking melodies and harmonies," she says. "And then there's another part of me that really likes funk and pop and things that are accessible. This record is another chance for me to assemble all of these great musicians to help me combine those different aspects of myself - those different pieces - and create something special in the process.

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Digital Booklet: The Mosaic Project
Digital Booklet: The Mosaic Project
Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 19, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Concord Jazz
  • ASIN: B004ZQBP5O
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,413 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By RBSProds TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 19, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Five BRILLIANT Stars! Grammy-winning drummer, singer, composer/arranger, producer, and leader Terri Lyne Carrington's 5th recording is a major achievement of great beauty, hipness, and social significance which won the 2011 Jazz Vocal Album Grammy. Three decades into her impressive and multi-faceted career, on this recording the Berklee grad has enlisted and expertly combined the talents, in varying combinations, of over 20 top female musicians and singers all of whom transcend gender and are among the very best performers that the jazz world has to offer. These are female performers "coming together to support and celebrate each other from a musical and social perspective". And the various messages never get in the way of the beautiful, swinging music because they are the music. And what an exceptional cast of Grammy-winners, poll winners, established stars, and rising stars! Terri Lyne taps the front rank vocal talents of Diane Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Cassandra Wilson, Gretchen Parlato, Carmen Lundy, and Nona Hendryx, along with the blazing instrumental musicianship of singer/bassist Esperanza Spalding and Mimi Jones' bass; Ingrid Jensen on brass; Tineke Postma on reeds; Anat Cohen on clarinet and reeds; Geri Allen, Patrice Rushen, and Helen Sung on keyboards, singer/percussionist Shelia E, and Chia-Yin Carol Ma's violin. "Transformation", written and sung by Nona Hendryx is truly a hip revelation and the McCartney/Lennon "Michelle" is transformed into a bluesy, inspired instrumental journey. The gut-wrenching "Echo" begins with Angela Davis' words which are magnified and illuminated by Dianne Reeves, the chorus, and some tasty unison and solo work by Jensen.Read more ›
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Let me say that I was blown away by Teri Lyne Carrington's latest offering. It is deep, profound, musically complex, and lush. To get the full effect of the brilliance of these very talented women, please be sure to listen on a good quality sound system (undisturbed) to allow yourself the pleasure of experiencing every note and nuance. You'll do yourself a great disservice to listen to this CD simply as background music. It's that rich. What a treasure!
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I went through the whole CD twice already - and it's superb. There's no skippers, every track is beautiful and multi-layered. Gotta give it up to the guest artists too. Terri Lyne is the glue holding everybody together, but all these women are remarkable in their own right. These new jazz albums continue to inspire me! Cheers to Terri and all the guest artists on Mosaic.
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This is one of the best vocal jazz c.d.'s of 2011. It is #2 in Jazz Times' annual poll (#16 overall), and it received a Grammy Nomination. Here is my confirmatory spin on the situation:

There are twenty musicians on this recording, and all are women. I don't know if this was a case of Ms. Carrington calling in a lot of favors, or of a number of accomplished women musicians really wanting to do this recording, or both. Whichever the case, the effect is stunning.

The basic musical genre (except for the last track; see below) is '70's-style fusion. Tricky music to play, and it is played consistently superbly. You will hear traces of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, Weather Report and "Silent Way" Miles Davis throughout. The basic group of instrumentalists (Ms. Carrington and Sheila E., drums and percussion; Geri Allen, Patrice Rushen or Helen Sung, keyboards; Esperanza Spaulding, bass; Anat Cohen, clarinet and bass clarinet; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet and flugelhorn; Hailey Niswanger, flute; Tineke Postma, saxes; Linda Taylor, guitars) sound tight and wonderful throughout.

And the singers! A recording with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Gretchen Parlato, Ms. Spaulding, and Carmen Lundy, all on one disc? Check my pulse; I think I've died and gone to heaven!

All of that is as good as advertised. But the title of the disc is "The Mosaic Project." I'm not saying all recordings have to have a gestalt; but the great ones do, and a title such as that begs for one. What is this album about, ultimately?

Here's my take: The key tracks are #1, "Transformation'" #14, "Sisters on the Rise"; and #4, "Echo." These three point to the picture in the mosaic; the evolution of modern day woman.
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Unfortunately, we're still in an age in which artistic accomplishments by an all-female aggregation are still noted in that gender-specific way, because it's something out of the norm. It is, but not because of the relative talent of the performers. When was the last time you heard about a release notable because it was done by an all-male band? That said, Carrington's latest effort is a celebration of all things jazz, all things musical, and, coincidentally, all things female. Behind her drum kit, Carrington is a painter. She provides just the right percussive touch to bring each track forward, showcase the singer or lead instrument, and dance a little on the side. Guest vocals by the likes of Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nona Hendryx, and the relatively unknown Gretchen Parlato bring a fascinating variety of styles, yet Carrington's arrangements keep everything whole. Highlights include "I Got Lost in His Arms" (cool horns), "Simply Beautiful" (Al Green's song sparkles), and "Wistful" (when was the last time you heard a bass clarinet melded into a mix?). The Mosaic Project won a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album, but the coherence of this set is also a tribute to the female musicians who power this masterpiece to fruition.
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