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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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The ACT Years

ACT 9588 - 2



  1. Jazz Is A Spirit

  2. Manic Depression

  3. Ethiopia

  4. Journey Of Now

  5. Voodoo Child [slight return]

  6. Omega

  7. Burning Of The Midnight Lamp

  8. Purple Haze

  9. Mindful Intent

  10. Middle Way

  11. Samsara

  12. If 6 Was 9

Terri Lyne Carrington - Drums, vocals (tracks 3, 7, 8, 12)

Wallace Roney - Trumpet (tracks 1, 4)

Terence Blanchard - Trumpet (track 10)

Greg Osby - Alto sax (tracks 3, 6, 9)

Gary Thomas - Tenor sax (tracks 10, 11)

Danny Robinson - Guitar (track 1)

Nguyên Lê - Guitar (tracks 2, 5, 7, 8, 12), synths (tracks 5, 7)

Adam Rogers - Guitar (tracks 3, 5, 9)

Kevin Eubanks - Guitar (track 11)

Greg Kurstin - Keyboards (track 1), piano (track 4)

Herbie Hancock - Piano (tracks 10,11)

Bojan Z - Fender Rhodes, piano (track 12)

Malcolm - Jamal Warner - Bass, spoken word (track 1)

Jimmy Haslip - Bass (tracks 3, 6, 9)

Bob Hurst - Bass (tracks 4, 10, 11)

Michel Alibo - Electric bass (tracks 2, 7, 8, 12)

Darryl "Munyungo" Jackson - Percussion (tracks 1, 4)

Ed Barguiarena - Percussion (track 1)

Karim Ziad - Gumbri, percussion (track 5)

Aïda Khann - Vocal (tracks 2, 5), spoken word (track 12)

Terri Lyne Carrington, now approaching fifty, has an outstanding reputation as both a leader and a sidewoman. She was a child prodigy, awarded a full scholarship at the age of eleven to Berklee College of Music where she is now a professor. Latterly, she has been a Grammy Winner on two occasions. The first of these was for The Mosaic Project, (Concord 2011), which featured several singers and was successful in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category. Then, in 2013, with the same record label, she became the first female artist to win a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album (Money Jungle:Provocative In Blue). Known as a drummer, composer, record producer and vocalist, over the years she has played with some of the jazz scene's finest. On this disc, she is reunited with some of them. The title, The ACT Years, tends to suggest a longer period of time than is warranted. This collection in fact covers the period 2002 through to 2004 and features tracks drawn from two albums where she was leader and a third where she was a sidewoman. Nevertheless, these are significant, not just for their quality but also because Jazz Is A Spirit (2002) is only her second album as leader, closely followed by her third, namely Structure (2004). In 2002, she was part of Nguyên Lê's Purple – Celebrating Jimi Hendrix and that provides the other source of material here.

I would single out five tracks for special mention. The first of these is Ethiopia, a Joni Mitchell original first heard on Mitchell's 1985 release Dog Eat Dog. Here the listener can savour Greg Osby's discursive alto playing and Adam Rogers, highly effective on guitar, as well as Carrington's clear articulation of Mitchell's challenging lyrics. Voodoo Child [slight return] is possessed (no pun intended!) of a real beat and some wild guitar and synths from Nguyên Lê. Aïda Khan, who has already shown what an expressive and powerful voice she has on a previous track, Manic Depression, is once more on the money. Purple Haze further showcases Lê and his wonderfully inventive guitar playing with Carrington's drumming a continued pleasure (she also contributes background vocals). Middle Way is very listenable with a strong sound and theme. Terence Blanchard and Gary Thomas adorn the occasion and there is a typically persuasive contribution from Herbie Hancock. The final pick of the bunch has to be Samsara [for Wayne]. My assumption is that this is dedicated to Wayne Shorter. Gary Thomas on tenor sax is excellent here as is Kevin Eubanks on guitar and the estimable Herbie Hancock (Terri was part of Herbie's group from 1994 until 1998).

Elsewhere, I relished Wallace Roney's fluent trumpet performances, surely influenced by Miles Davis but no clone, the strong, at times funky, electric bass work of Michel Alibo, and the dynamic Fender Rhodes playing of Bojan Z on the closing track. Add to that, the cohesive group sound to be heard on say, Journey Of Now, and there is much to enjoy. I was impressed by Terri Lyne Carrington's compositional ability, represented on five tracks, her meticulous sense of rhythm and her vocal contribution, which I found engaging. ACT are to be congratulated on releasing this compilation.

James Poore

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