The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul

Terri Lyne Carrington

(CD - #5032994)

Review by Thom Jurek

When powerhouse drummer and composer Terri Lyne Carrington launched her Mosaic Project back in 2011, her motivation was to celebrate "the artistry of many women I had worked with and felt a sisterly bond with, women that were close friends and musical partners." Her cast included a star-studded host of players and singers such as Anat Cohen, Patrice Rushen, Sheila E., Esperanza Spalding, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Carmen Lundy, Cassandra Wilson, and Dianne Reeves. Love and Soul features appearances by many of the original players as well as new ones, including bassists Linda Oh and Meshell Ndegeocello, violinist Regina Carter, and completely different singers. "I'm a Fool to Want You" was co-written by Frank Sinatra and is just as closely associated with Billie Holiday (both had centennial birthdays in 2015). Here it is completely reimagined as a slippery, summery pop-soul song rendered beautifully by Chaka Khan. Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday" is given a cosmic soul treatment with a triple-timed funky drum-and-bass attack with sparkling, spacy Rhodes and wah-wah guitars. Natalie Cole emerges from the wash with its melody intact. Ashford & Simpson's classic "Somebody Told a Lie" is fronted by Valerie Simpson herself, in a chart that melds woodwinds, strings, a melodic bassline, and laid-back breakbeats. But classics aside, Carrington's tunes are some of the best on the set. "Imagine This" is framed inside a futurist treatment (think of the Foreign Exchange or Sa-Ra collectives) set apart by a chart that makes deliberate room for Nancy Wilson's iconic, classy style. "This Too Will Pass" weaves together pop, Isley Brothers-styled soul, and rock with Lalah Hathaway guiding the band with a smoky, throaty contralto. The sexy "Get to Know You"'s vocal showcase is Ledisi at her best. Ndegeocello's bassline is an expressive tonal counterpoint to the singer and an elastic companion for Carrington's drums. Rushen's "When I Found You" is the closer. It features the composer on Rhodes, Carter's violin, and a horn section backing Lizz Wright's lead. She digs into the lyric and then improvises with piano, guitar, and trumpet as the drummer pushes the ensemble to the creative edge. Mosaic Project fans will appreciate Love and Soul's exceptionally sophisticated take on R&B. Fans of Robert Glasper and José James should take note, too. Carrington has proven on all of her outings that she knows exactly what she wants and how to get it -- from any group of musicians. This one is no exception.