After studying under full scholarship at Berklee, with the encouragement of her mentor, Jack DeJohnette, Carrington moved to New York in 1983. For 5 years she was a much in-demand musician, working with James Moody, Lester Bowie, Pharoah Sanders, and others. In the late ‘80s she relocated to Los Angeles, where she gained recognition on late night TV as the house drummer for the Arsenio Hall Show, then again in the late ‘90s as the drummer on the Quincy Jones late night TV show, VIBE, hosted by Sinbad.
In 1989, Carrington released a GRAMMY®-nominated debut CD entitled Real Life Story, which featured Carlos Santana, Grover Washington Jr., Dianne Reeves, Wayne Shorter, Patrice Rushen, Gerald Albright, John Scofield, Robert Irving III, Greg Osby, Don Alias and Hiram Bullock. Other solo CDs include 2002’s Jazz is a Spirit, which features Herbie Hancock, Gary Thomas, Wallace Roney, Terence Blanchard, Kevin Eubanks, and Bob Hurst, and 2004’s Structure, a cooperative group which features Adam Rogers, Jimmy Haslip and Greg Osby. Both CDs were released on the Europe-based ACT Music label and enjoyed considerable media attention and critical acclaim in the European and Japanese markets.
Carrington’s production and songwriting collaborations with artists such as Gino Vannelli, Peabo Bryson, Dianne Reeves, Siedah Garrett, Marilyn Scott have produced notable works as well, including a special song commissioned by the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games, “Always Reach for Your Dreams,” (featuring Peabo Bryson), and her production of the Dianne Reeves GRAMMY®-nominated CD, That Day, which hovered at the top of the music charts for many months.
Carrington has performed on many recordings throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s thru today. Notable examples of her work include Herbie Hancock’s GRAMMY® Award-winning CD Gershwin’s World, where she played alongside Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder. She has toured with each of Hancock’s musical configurations (from electric to acoustic) over the last 10 years and is featured on his Future2Future DVD.
After a hiatus from the U.S. recording scene as a solo recording artist, Carrington returned in 2008 with More To Say... (Real Life Story: NextGen). Joining her was an impressive all-star cast of jazz and contemporary jazz instrumentalists, including George Duke, Everette Harp, Kirk Whalum, Jimmy Haslip, Greg Phillinganes, Gregoire Maret, Christian McBride, Danilo Perez, Patrice Rushen, Robert Irving III (who also serves as co-producer), Chuck Loeb, Tineke Postma, Ray Fuller, Dwight Sills, Anthony Wilson, Les McCann and a special appearance by her dad, Sonny Carrington, on tenor. In addition, she collaborated with esteemed vocalist Nancy Wilson for the song, “Imagine This.”
Carrington released The Mosaic Project in July 2011, her fifth recording overall and first on Concord Jazz. The critically acclaimed CD, which won a GRAMMY® Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album, gathered a myriad of voices and crystallized them into a multi-faceted whole that far outweighed the sum of its parts. She produced the 14-song set which featured some of the most prominent female jazz artists of the last few decades: Esperanza Spalding, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sheila E., Nona Hendryx, Cassandra Wilson, Geri Allen and several others. Carrington said the emergence of so many great female jazz artists is what made an album like The Mosaic Project possible, more so than in decades past.
On February 5, 2013, Carrington releases Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue, her much anticipated homage to Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the release of their iconic 1963 Money Jungle album. Her new recording features Gerald Clayton and Christian McBride, with guests Clark Terry, Lizz Wright, Herbie Hancock and others.