In 2011 jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington won the Best Jazz Vocal Album Grammy for ‘The Mosaic Project’ long player.The collection was a complex affair. The music was a mix of originals and covers and helping the percussionist deliver was a stellar line up of female vocalists. Little wonder that it’s taken some four years to create a follow up, but this second volume of ‘The Mosaic Project’ (subtitled ‘Love and Soul’) has been well worth the wait.
Again there’s the pleasing mix of the familiar and the new and the vocal line up across the generous 12 tracks reads like a who’s who of current soul and jazz. Amongst the featured singers are Nancy Wilson, Lalah Hathaway, Jaguar Wright, Natalie Cole, Lizz Wright, Oleta Adam, Valerie Simpson and Chaka Khan.
Ms K fronts the album’s standout – a slinky, sensual reading of the old Frank Sintara standard ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’. Chaka’s in fine form and her laid-back bite reminds me of her sass and swagger circa ‘Move Me No Mountain’. The tempo is soulfully mid-tempo and I’m guessing that “Old blue eyes” probably wouldn’t recognize it but surely that’s the point of proper cover versions – creating something quite different. Ms Carrington’s imagining works beautifully.
Not so sure though on her interpretation of the Duke Ellington standard ‘Come Sunday’. This one’s a skittery, stuttery broken beat reading with Natalie Cole sounding a little uncomfortable over the beat patterns. Remember thought that Ellington himself said that jazz was all about “freedom of expression” and here Terri finds a personal freedom via what she creates behind her drum kit.
Soul fans will, I’m sure, prefer, Oleta Adams on the Luther Vandross ballad ‘For You To Love’. Sadly it reminds us both of Luther’s greatness and Ms Adams’ huge talent… a talent that we don’t get to enjoy too often these days. The piano/vocal meld is a delight. And what a great choice of song to cover … not too obvious. Ditto the choice of Ashford/Simpson’s ‘Somebody Told A Lie’. And who better to deliver the vocal than Valerie Simpson herself!
Amongst the original tunes there’s a great Nancy Wilson delivery on ‘Imagine This’ while on the Chante Moore vocalised ‘Best Of The Best, Carrington superimposes the voice of one of her old mentors, George Duke, over the intro… a poignant and very personal touch.
‘The Mosaic Project; Love and Soul’ is out now