In her more than 40 years behind the drum kit, 2021 NEA Jazz Master Terri Lyne Carrington has built a reputation as one of the most dynamic instrumentalists, bandleaders and composers in jazz. But before she became an in-demand musician, she was a kid growing up outside of Boston, swinging behind the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson.

"She grew into the business with friendships with the masters that you can't believe," says her father, Sonny Carrington, who raised his daughter around legions of jazz legends as the founder of the Boston Jazz Society. Before she turned 25, his daughter had landed gigs with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Stan Getz. Today, she's reached legend status herself. "For me, at this stage, I feel like it's all about the work," she says. "Everything I do is focused, on some level, with a mission."

On this episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll hear music that encapsulates Terri Lyne Carrington's wide-ranging sound as she joins Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Ravi Coltrane, the late Geri Allen and more on the bandstand. We'll also hear from her mentors, friends and collaborators — including Hancock, Spalding and Jack DeJohnette — as we trace her rise as a consummate drummer, tenacious producer and dedicated advocate for gender justice in jazz.


PDX Jazz Festival:

Terri Lyne Carrington, drums; Ravi Coltrane saxophone; Esperanza Spalding, bass.

Detroit Jazz Festival:

Terri Lyne Carrington, drums; Wayne Shorter, saxophone; Esperanza Spalding, bass; Leo Genovese, piano.

SF Jazz:

Terri Lyne Carrington, drums; Geri Allen, piano; Esperanza Spalding, bass.

The Checkout Live at Berklee College of Music:

Terri Lyne Carrington, drums; Kris Davis, piano; Linda May Han Oh, bass.

Set List:

  • "Very Special" [excerpt] (Duke Ellington)
  • "Miss Ann" (Eric Dolphy)
  • "Sonnymoon For Two" [excerpt] (Sonny Rollins) 
  • Endangered Species" (Wayne Shorter)
  • "Fall" (Wayne Shorter)
  • "Pisces" [excerpt] (Mary Lou Williams)

Special thanks to Patrick Springer and Alex Donovan from PDX Jazz and Simon Rentner from The Checkout at WBGO.


Writers and Producers: Sarah Geledi and Sarah Kerson; Host: Christian McBride; Music Engineers: Patrick Springer (PDX Jazz Festival); Masanori Yura and Maya Finlay (SF Jazz); David Tallacksen (The Checkout Live at Berklee); Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

Copyright 2021 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.