The last time Terri Lyne Carrington performed at the Howard Theatre, it was the venue’s second annual gala and benefit concert, during which singers Chaka Khan, Dionne Warwick and Valerie Simpson were honored. That was 2013.
At the time, Carrington wasn’t a stranger to paying musical tribute to her fellow woman musicians. Her 2011 album The Mosaic Project, which won a Grammy in 2012 for Best Jazz Vocal Album, featured an all-star cast of not only women musicians, like Esperanza Spalding, Dianne Reeves, Nona Hendryx and Sheila E., but also featured commentary from Angela Davis.
Now, Carrington is set to perform at the Howard Theatre on November 5, months after releasing The Mosaic Project: LOVE and SOUL, a follow-up to her 2011 album. In her latest offering, she juxtaposed her salute to female artists by paying tribute to various male artists who have influenced her in one way or the other.
“The Mosaic Project was an all-female project that celebrates women but it was in no way trying to exclude men,” Carrington said. “So [this record] was my way of trying to bring the male spirit into the project and pay tribute to some great male artists. Some that are still with us and some that have passed away.”
One of the men that Carrington paid tribute to on her latest album was musician George Duke, one of her close friends and musical collaborators who passed away in 2013. She paid homage to him by playing back a voice message he recorded shortly before he passed away as the intro to the track “Best of the Best.”
“He was a big influence on me and a bit of a mentor as well,” Carrington said. “People like him, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones – they’re the ones that I see that make me feel like I can be a jazz musician, which I am, and also do these other styles, which are a big part of me.
“George was a great jazz musician, but I mean he just loved funk, too. I don’t think he would say he loved one more than the other. But when he grew up he wanted to be Duke Ellington….When I see that openness and that ability talent wise to authentically live in a few different areas, that’s very inspiring to me.”
Carrington, like Duke, has worked with a wide range of musicians outside of her jazz foundation, including Hendryx, Carlos Santana, Peabo Bryson and Kevin Eubanks (one of her classmates at the Berklee College of Music).
She’s also been one of the lesser known, at least in mainstream music circles, bridges from the time in the 80s and 90s when jazz was not as much of a popular music genre to the past decade when jazz has seen a resurgence in popularity with artists like Spalding, Christian Scott and Robert Glasper.
In 2005, she was hired as a professor at Berklee College of Music, where she’s seen the younger generation, many of whom are noticeably influenced by bebop and modal jazz while incorporating genres like punk, hip-hop and electronic music into their sounds.
“I’ve been teaching there for the last ten years and I think it’s an exciting time, all of the people who are checking out the music from back in the day through now and all the other styles,” Carrington said. “This has been happening a lot more over the last 20 years and coming to fruition now and it makes it a very exciting time in jazz right now.”
She said that she can’t get enough of seeing all of the permutations produced by the musical melting pot of recent decades.
“I definitely see this trend of no limitations, no boundaries and all that happening. Right now it’s peaking in a sense,” Carrington said. “I don’t know where it’s going, but it’s exciting.”
• For more information about Terri Lyne Carrington, visit terrilynecarrington.com.