Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science bring radical rhythms to Kuumbwa – Santa Cruz Sentinel


Terri Lyne Carrington started playing drums at the age of 5, beating rhythms on her grandfather’s drums. His father was also a saxophonist and drummer and his musical aspirations were supported by his family and friends.

If others berated, “Drums aren’t for girls,” Carrington recalls, “I just didn’t care. Forty years later, Carrington has recorded and toured with many leading musicians, including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding. Last week she performed with Jack DeJohnette, who was one of her main mentors.

Carrington is the founder and artistic director of the Institute for Jazz and Gender Justice at Berklee College of Music and her two Mosaic Project albums have brought together female instrumentalists and singers including Chaka Khan and Natalie Cole. She is also the first woman to win a Grammy Award in the Best Instrumental Jazz Album category in 2013 for Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.

Carrington performs Thursday night with his group Social Science for a 6:30 p.m. show at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center. The band Waiting Game’s 2019 album is eclectic and powerful, bringing together jazz, hip-hop, rock, opera and avant-garde musical styles to highlight the long history of struggles for social justice in this country and the movements pending for intersectional justice. Tickets: kuumbwajazz.org/calendar/terri-lyne-carrington-social-science-630-pm/.

Jazz and social justice

Q: “There is a great tradition of social justice in the world of jazz. I am thinking of artists like Nina Simone, Charles Mingus and Fela Kuti. With your group Social Science, you have combined innovative music with powerful political messages. Tell me about that. “

A: “I think you’re right that Jazz has always been involved in social justice. But an important element of social justice work is missing; gender equity, ”Carrington said. “We are now in a time where everyone seems to point out that these things are related; racial justice, gender justice and all the other struggles. People now see the intersection of all of these struggles, which is great. Because many black women, for example, felt they had to choose what they wanted to fight for; racial justice or gender justice. And most came to the conclusion, “I am a black woman. How can I prioritize one over the other? All struggles for justice are linked. I always say to my students: “You are in an institute for jazz and gender justice. How would it be if you went outside and threw some trash? Or don’t treat the planet properly? Or don’t you consider ableism? “

“I’ve come to a place where I can shape the music around these ideas. It took a while for my consciousness to really get there, ”Carrington continued. “But the important thing is to make sure the music sounds good! There are a lot of people who have been ambitious with social justice projects. We can see a lot of them at the moment. And I appreciate that. But I’m not in it unless the music sounds good too! (laughs) It’s tricky because sometimes it can get too heavy or too much like you’re preaching or didactic. All of these things can happen when you try to merge that kind of awareness with music. And you are being watched a lot more because you start to tell more of a collective story, not just your own personal story.

Mumia Abu Jamal

Q: “On the song ‘No Justice for Political Prisoners’ we hear the voices of radical activists, including Assata Shakur of the Black Liberation Army, long-imprisoned journalist Mumia Abu Jamal and abolitionist Angela Davis. “

A: “Angela Davis is one of my best friends. I just spent a vacation with her in August. I’ve always loved working with speeches and people’s voices as a way for instrumental music to convey certain thoughts, ”Carrington said. “I got used to loving the messages in vocal music, as well as the emotion and magic that can happen when words and music meet. Getting Mumia to record this for the album was a really big moment for me because I was just going to use a sample. I had to get clearances and when I spoke to her lawyer she said Mumia didn’t want me to do it because I had to pay the jail $ 200 to use her voice. He didn’t want that. So he re-recorded it over the phone.

“What gives you the right to kill in such a senseless way?” Sirens turn into church bells,

signaling another unjustifiable death… ”

– extract from “Bells Ring Loudly” by Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science

(2019 Waiting Game album)

Time is up

Q: “It’s amazing to see a global explosion of the movement to end the police and replace it with real community safety. I am so curious as to why this has happened now during the pandemic. Thoughts?”

A: “If I had any ideas about it, I would probably do something else for a living, like writing or being a philosopher. I do not know. But I’m glad it’s happening. And I think that’s generally what happens; the heat of things comes to a head at some point, ”Carrington said. “History has always proven that progress is on the side of justice. Or we would still be slaves. I think it was just the right moment; it was time. Time is up. You can’t believe it’s 2021 and it’s still happening. In modern society, it is simply wrong to kill people for no reason.

“I’m just thankful that I’m alive to see this change happen because it really feels like a change with a collective consciousness. I’m seeing changes in other areas as well as our students are really ahead of the game in this generation, ”Carrington continued. “It looks like they’re saying, ‘Stop. Enough is enough.’ From gun laws to Black Lives Matter and everything in between. I am grateful that this generation got it right. I know history has also proven that they (young people) are the leaders of most justice movements.

You have to be radical

A: “While listening to your album ‘Waiting Game’, I thought of Nina Simone who sang in ‘Mississippi Goddam’: ‘They keep telling us to take it slow. That’s the problem – take it slow. I think a lot of people are tired of being told to slow down with social justice. “

A: “You have to be radical,” Carrington said. “Things are a mess when they change and we can’t be afraid of them. There are different schools of thought and I think you need all the approaches. It has to be a bit holistic. Some people will do more in certain contexts if they adapt their activism to that context. While a lot of people disagreed with Martin Luther King and nonviolence, he might have saved a lot of lives. You know what I mean? What I’m really trying to say is that we have to come to terms with the uncomfortable nature of it all, when the going gets tough. It’s for everyone.

“I think about how I’ve been in situations where I’m uncomfortable talking about race in a room full of white people. But now I’m not. And it’s really liberating, ”Carrington said. “If you look back at why you are uncomfortable, there are only a few reasons. One would be for you to take on an extra burden of not wanting to make them feel uncomfortable. Another reason is; you’re pretty happy with the status quo of things. For a better and fairer future for everyone, those two things I just mentioned really can’t be on the table.

“I’m the kind of person who is uncomfortable if other people are uncomfortable, because I don’t want people to be uncomfortable, do I? But now I have to take that and say, “It’s not my problem,” Carrington said. “They have to find a way not to be uncomfortable. Or just because I’m doing well in this boardroom or with the president of this organization or quorum, that doesn’t mean I stop standing up for other people who might not have the same opportunities. and access that me.

“What has happened over the past year and a half has brought all of these feelings and thoughts to the surface. Now we are able to work on them. That doesn’t mean I’m saying it’s a black / white thing. I’m just saying that people in general are able to solve them. Because if you start talking about gender justice, there are a lot of women who are very comfortable with patriarchy, ”Carrington said. “They profit from it or invest in it in one way or another. I’m not just trying to get all the men in Jazz to move forward. Some of them are already there, even if they are not fully educated or versed in it. While in percentage terms, of course, there are many more men in jazz, there are just as many women who are not progressive thinkers.

No gender prison

Q: “Tell me about the coming together of so many styles of music and words. “

A: “I always tried to do that, but it was not adopted by the labels. In fact, my second album was shelved. I was really happy when people started making independent music without labels telling them what to do artistically. As labels started to disappear and more independent music emerged, it created an opening so people didn’t have to focus on the genre so much, ”Carrington explained. “Basically, not being in a gender prison. I felt like I could do more of what I had tried to do and I also got better at doing it; mix genres and have artistic freedom. When I started in 1989, it wasn’t really possible. But on this last album, I collaborated with people from different backgrounds. Matthew Stevens (guitars); some of his music is influenced by indie rock and Aaron Parks (keyboards) brings contemporary classical music. Our singer, Debo Ray, is from Haiti and she sings in different languages ​​and has received classical training. Morgan Guerin is a multi-instrumentalist and very committed to the new school of Jazz. And then adding a spoken or hip-hop element with Kassa Overall was just a natural thing. “

If you are going to

Who: Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Sciences.
Time: Thursday 6:30 p.m. (doors and dinner at 5:30 p.m.).
Location: Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320 Cedar St., Santa Cruz.
Tickets: $ 29 to $ 52.50.
Information: kuumbwajazz.org/calendar/terri-lyne-carrington-social-science-630-pm/.

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