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Live Reviews

Sphinx and Preacher: James Carter and the Odean Pope Saxophone Choir

By Published: March 20, 2009
Yet this transformation comes at the price of much of the music's soul. Carter's playing can be intense, but it's never revealing. When Carter hammed it up beside the Saxophone Choir, he peppered his solos with quotes and riffed on the chatter of a group of French tourists. In short, he gave us little more than pastiche and puns. When Carter unleashed his raucous assaults, the only detectable emotions were impatience and hostility; He never stayed with an idea long enough to express anything else.

In both iterations of his personality, Carter seemed unwilling to follow Odean Pope's example of musical generosity: stepping off the stage and spending a moment connecting with the audience. It was clear that Carter could play both a matinee idol and a confounding sphinx, but, much to the detriment of the show, he never let us see deeper than his technical ingenuity—his humanity remained a mystery.

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