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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Carney: Ways & Means

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Pianist James Carney takes the parameters involved in scoring films and applies them with the discipline of a jazz composer on the ambitious Ways & Means, the kind of challenging and cohesive work that listeners have come to expect from this exemplary musician. Carney's band is as great a gathering of talent as one can find and they don't waste a note in his intricate arrangements. The excellence of Tony Malaby's tenor and Josh Roseman's trombone drive “Nefarious Notions"; Carney blends acoustic and synthesized sounds to produce a wonderful aural bouquet on the epic “Squatters," Peter Epstein ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Carney Group: Ways & Means

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Keyboardist James Carney framed the compositions on this recording from a cinematic perspective. Three of the tunes are improvisations and Carney succeeds with both his stances. He and his artful band bring in plenty of drama, a sense of adventure and pure emotional force.

Carney is an accomplished pianist who finds his groove in several styles. As a composer, he is a perspicacious designer of sound fathoming in it his harmonic concepts and the abundant field for his imagination. The aural scope is wide; gentle in the chamber feel, freewheeling in an open situation, trenchant in the development ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Carney Group: Ways & Means

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It's good to see the jazz community is not shying away from pressing political and social issues of the day. Guitarist Brad Shepik, with his Human Activity Suite (Songlines, 2009), and drummer Alex Cline, with Continuation (Cryptogramophone, 2009), have both made musical pleas for the environment in 2009, following in the socially conscious footsteps of Max Roach, Charles Mingus and Charlie Haden, among others.

With Ways & Means, keyboardist James Carney aggressively confronts this century's first major economic crisis. Conceived as “a virtual film score--not reliant on any images to tell its tale," Carney and his group stir a bitch's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Carney Group: Ways & Means

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Inspired by his work scoring Edward Sloman's 1925 silent film, His People, for the Syracuse International Film Festival in 2006, New York-based keyboardist James Carney continued to explore the narrative potential of cinematic structures. Funded in part by commissions from Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Carney produced Ways & Means, a “virtual film score" recorded with his regular touring group.

Steadily winding their way through this episodic suite, Carney's ensemble evinces an array of moods, ranging from austere to ardent. His septet features a killer front-line--Peter Epstein (soprano, alto), Tony Malaby (tenor), Ralph Alessi ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Carney Group: Green-Wood

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James Carney cites a long and varied line of influences on his music that includes Henry Threadgill, Keith Emerson, Steve Reich and Bill Monroe. That's an eclectic mix, and all have a certain bearing on his compositions.

Carney, who won the 1999 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Composers Award, composes music in his head and then writes it down. That gives him a clearer picture of the direction he wants and also makes it easier to change.

The compositions on Green-Wood are a mixed bag of the old and new. Some were created and developed over several years; others are of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Carney: Green-Wood

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Keyboardist and composer James Carney might be described as a friendly iconoclast, an artist who enthusiastically explores new concepts at the cutting edge of jazz and welcomes listeners to share what he's discovered instead of daring them to keep up. The borough of Brooklyn is the inspiration for Carney's Green-Wood, where he joins some old friends to create an impressive aural feast. Carney is a stylistic chameleon who uses different textures and colors to create tension and augment a song's complexity. “Power, for instance, gradually evolves like a small galaxy until the song becomes a cohesive free ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Carney: Thread

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James Carney is a musical polyglot knowledgeable in various idioms, and he exploits this fluency on Thread. While his previous works featured formidable horn sections, Carney has scaled down to a trio this time, featuring Dan Morris on drums, while Todd Sickafoose and Dan Lutz share bass duties.

The disc opens with the first part of “Grassy Shoal Hoedown", which features a splendid dialogue between Carney and Morris that continues on the second part of the tune as Morris's restless percussion percolates beneath Carney's two-fisted flurries. The rhythm soothes, drives, and ultimately screams. “La Guerra Nueva" is a haunting ballad ...



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