Listening to Kentucky-bred organist Kendall Carter's debut album, aptly titled Introducing Kendall Carter, is akin to taking a pleasant stroll through a park on a warm and sunny day. While Carter is technically flawless, he doesn't overwhelm the listener with waves of sound but plays organ from a pianist's point of view, sacrificing sheer volume on the altar of celerity and tastefulness. That stands to reason, as Carter studied piano at the University of Louisville and is equally at home on either instrument.
The choice of organ for his coming-out party may have been dictated at least in part by the fact that jazz pianists abound in almost every crevasse and corner while the pool of topnotch jazz organists is relatively shallow. Whatever the rationale, Carter makes his mark with a winning combination of poise and musicality. The astuteness extends as well to his choice of sidemen: guitarist Dave Stryker, a seasoned pro with blues in his soul, and drummer Kenny Phelps whose rhythmic sense and exemplary timing serve to keep everyone in lock step and grooving.
The interesting catalog of songsall arranged by Cartercovers themes by Bill Withers, Kenny Dorham, Carla Bley, Lee Morgan, Sam Rivers and Carter's light-hearted "Punjabi Affair," along with "Afro Blue" and the session's two standards, "That's All" and "The Masquerade Is Over." Stryker wrote the shuffling finale, "Blues for Kendall." The blues is never far from sight on the irrepressible opener, "Blame It on the Boogie," as is true on "Afro Blue," Withers' "Lovely Day," Morgan's "Speedball" and "The Masquerade Is Over." "That's All" and Bley's "Lawns" are the album's lone ballads. Whatever the mood, Carter and Stryker solo with assurance while Phelps rests firmly in the groove.
A smart and handsome debut for Kendall Carter who in years to come may need no further introduction to those who are well-versed in jazz.
Blame It on the Boogie; Afro Blue; Lovely Day; Short Story; Lawns; Speedball; Beatrice; The
Masquerade Is Over; Punjabi Affair; That’s All; Blues for Kendall.