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High Five

Terri Lyne Carrington answers questions on Coltrane’s artistry

Now in its 35th year, the John Coltrane Memorial Concert honors the late jazz icon’s towering legacy. Terri Lyne Carrington, the drummer, composer, and producer (and recent Grammy winner, thank you very much), will lead this weekend’s all-star program hosted by WGBH’s Eric Jackson with tributes to Steve Schwartz, jazz producer and radio personality, and saxophonist/educator Andy McGhee. We recently asked Carrington a mix of questions about Coltrane’s artistry.

1. First Coltrane song you ever learned to play? “I was so young when I started that it is hard to remember the first Coltrane song I ever learned, but it may have been ‘Mr. P.C.’ or ‘Equinox.’ My dad was big on the blues, and I remember listening to both of those with him. All great jazz artists, including Coltrane, never left sight of the importance of the blues.”

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2. Coltrane song that still inspires you? “The track ‘Impressions’ was and still is very much like a religious experience for me because it touches something mystic – inexplicable and thought provoking, yet at the same time cleansing and meditative. Also, the rhythm, timing, and phrasing of all the players epitomize jazz to me.”

3. Favorite Coltrane album? “I love the ‘Ballads’ CD because it is so beautiful and it taught me how to use restraint and simplicity when playing ballads.”

4. Most underrated Coltrane song? “Can’t really answer this, as I do not know much obscure Coltrane. But ‘Naima’ is one of my favorite Coltrane compositions, due to the compelling melody. And I was just thinking about ‘Giant Steps’ the other day, how it is not as difficult for young people to play as it was even when I was coming up because today young musicians are used to these kinds of chord progressions.”

5. Favorite Coltrane collaboration? “My favorite collaboration is with Coltrane and Johnny Hartman because they both had amazing sounds on their instruments. Great horn players sound like they are vocalizing at some point. They sing for us when they play, so to me Coltrane complemented and accompanied Hartman’s voice perfectly. Felt like two singers.”

The John Coltrane Memorial Concert will take place at Northeastern University’s Blackman Theatre (360 Huntington Ave.) on Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $35, $30 for students, and $40 for VIP section. 617-373-4700, tickets
.neu.edu.

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