On her seventh release as a bandleader, jazz drummer, producer and composer Terri Lynne Carrington brought together a who’s who of soul and R&B vocalists and musicians for an album that just gets you by the gut the moment you play the first track and does not let go until the very last tune. Like the first installment of the Mosaic Project (released in 2011, which featured the likes of pianist Geri Allen, activist Angela Davis and percussionist Sheila E.), Carrington explores music almost completely through the voices of female performers – the exception being actor Billy Dee Williams’ breathy spoken intro on a reinvented take of Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday,” which features Natalie Cole. The singer delivers an inspired Gospel-inflected vocal, which is backed by a modern jazz arrangement that is enhanced by an inspired alto solo from Tia Fuller, an artist featured on these pages a few years back. “I’m a Fool to Want You,” a standard made famous by Billie Holiday (it appeared on “Lady in Satin,” released after her untimely passing in 1959) that is completely reinvented into a neo-soul format with a fantastic interpretation by legendary singer Chaka Khan.
Another great moment is “For You to Love,” a tune originally recorded by the late Luther Vandross for his 1988 album “Any Love.” The song is reworked here into a blues-funk arrangement with vocals by Oleta Adams, who takes full advantage of her vocal range to take the song to new heights. Veteran Singer Nancy Wilson brings her unique vocal style to the original “Imagine This” (co-written by Carrington, Wilson and Eddie del Barrio). The arrangement is incredibly subtle, doing its best to get out of the way and let Wilson send out the message of rekindling a long-lost love affair. Carrington’s “Get to Know You” is another great highlight – the song has everything, including a great lead vocal by Ledisi and a fantastic bassline by Meshell Ndegeocello.
Like I said earlier, this is a disc that will grab you from the first spin and will stay for a very long time – it’s been on rotation at home since it arrived in the mail (yes, I still get CDs) and if I have my way it will stay there for a long time.