Kent Carter and the Continental Continuum
AAJ: As for the string trio, wasn't [violinist] Carlos Zingaro in it at one point?
KC: Yeah, he was in the first one. He's a fantastic player; I could not have done this without him. He played so great in this group, just incredible. Also Francois Dreno, the viola player. Their work with me I will never forget. It's going to be re-released on Emanem shortly; I did some work on the tracks and added some other stuff, so it's going to be a nice record.
AAJ: Have you ever entertained any thoughts of coming back to the US to do some work, or are you mostly Europe-based at this point?
KC: Not really. The States is a financial disaster. Even the work I did with Lacy while living here, I would come back and count the change at the airport. If you had one gig that didn't make it, you'd have to be at a motel for two days and you were fucked. That's the way it used to be in the old days. This all got better in the 80's for Steve, and people started getting interested in him again. I loved to play there; taking our European work over to New York and California was great, and it was received very well. Everybody used to come to the gigs, Cecil, Ornette, Gil Evans, it was very nice. And in Canada, places like Calgary; it was great.
I'd been asked to come over and do something with [trombonist] Steve Swell as an 'investment', like a recording. Klaus Kugel arranged it, but I didn't have the money or the time to do that. Other than that, I don't have any business there - I guess it's just that there's so much going on here. The European scene is fantastic, and I've been away so long that I don't know what's going on [in the States]. I don't really know how it works, and all my connections are here. I meet everybody there over here anyway.
AAJ: Right, because they can't get enough things going in the States. It still seems rather cutthroat to me, and you have to be a hustler.
KC: To launch something that would get people interested in me over there would cost some time and money.
AAJ: Other than the trio, what are some of the irons that you have in the fire for the near future?
KC: Different projects; I had my group called the Kent Carter Project, and I started to play with Karl Berger again, which is fantastic because we go back to the old days. He's sounding great. Klaus Kugel, the percussionist, I'm doing a lot of things with him - he started the Kent Carter Project a few years ago in Germany. Charlie Mariano joined us on that gig, Albrecht Maurer, and this wonderful soprano saxophonist Petros Vysniauskis. This record just came out; Karl is on it, and it's from a concert in East Germany.
AAJ: Mariano seems to pop up in the most odd and interesting contexts.
KC: He's a great player, really. I've been doing stuff with him in different combinations, having a good time in Germany. Bobby Bradford has been over here a couple of times recently, too.
AAJ: Right, you played with him and John Stevens.
KC: Yes, that record Love's Dream that Emanem just reissued, and it's fantastic. Trevor plays his ass of on this, and the two of them are just incredible.
AAJ: Trevor Watts is one of those players that people don't think of as being rooted in bebop, but he really is. It comes out on those Amalgam recordings, too.
KC: Yeah, he is. I was on some of those Amalgams too, and he's definitely underestimated. I don't know why; he's brilliant, and that's about all I can say. You can really hear it on Love's Dream , and Christ... people said he sounded like Ornette; so what - Ornette would love it!
AAJ: English musicians are not given enough credit for being able to swing and play hard, and everybody seems to think it's just chirpy music when it's not.
KC: It's not at all, and that's a good example. England is full of music and wonderful players. There is so much music going on in London that you can go to a concert at noon with a sandwich! I'm deeply interested in European improvised music, and it has come to a state where it's really an incredible art form. Jazz has helped it a lot, but it has moved into something else, and it's very exciting. It's getting serious!
AAJ: I guess when those albums were coming out in the late '60s and early '70s it seemed sort of provincial, but it has grown into so much more.
KC: For people who don't know if it's written or not, it really is, and it's instantaneously linked with all the contemporary stuff. The chops, the ensemble playing, everything is great.
AAJ: When I first got into the music, I started with the American players and it took awhile to move into the European players, and when you see first-generation European improvisers, it sometimes seems like they play with a lot more fire than American players of the same generation. I don't know if it has something to do with state health care or what, but it seems more energetic.
KC: I think the creative thing is freer here. There's something happening; even in France, the scene is difficult but there are guys here that are incredible. I'm playing with a composer, Francois Roussais, and he's an excellent composer - symphonies, chamber music, opera - but he plays the piano and it's incredible. His musical mind goes to the far corners of European music. Incredible technique, but it isn't jazz. He'd love to play jazz, but he can't.