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James Carter: Live at Baker's Keyboard Lounge & Two Dreams

Russ Musto By

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James Carter
Live at Baker's Keyboard Lounge

Warner Bros.
2004

James Carter is a passionate player whose solos are frequently pushed over the top by his awesome virtuosity. That tendency is put to good use on this live extravaganza recorded before a raucous crowd at Baker's Keyboard Lounge. Joined by Johnny Griffin, Franz Jackson and David Murray on tenors, Larry Smith on alto and Dwight Adams on trumpet, with rhythm sections featuring pianist Kenny Cox, organist Gerard Gibbs, bassist Ralphe Armstrong and drummers Leonard King and the late Richard "Pistol" Allen (of Funk Brothers fame), Carter moves effortlessly through his arsenal of saxophones on an exciting program of jazz classics.

Starting with the soprano, he shows off his amazing articulation on a funky New Orleans style arrangement of Oscar Pettiford's "Tricotism" with Cox and company. Jimmy Forrest's "Soul Street" features a riffing tenor saxophone quartet and a Gibbs organ solo that utilizes some strange vocal chorus effects.

Carter and Murray lock horns on a version of "Freedom Jazz Dance" that lives up to its title. Jackson is featured on a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of "I Can't Get Started" that includes a vocal ode to inebriation (with some serious Carter soprano on the side).

Back on tenor, Carter is joined by Adams and Cox for a swinging quintet outing on "Free and Easy" by Don Byas. Jackson and Smith join the group for the Monkish Leonard Feather blues "Low Flame," with Carter moving on to baritone. The leader sticks with the big horn and Smith's alto for an elegantly restrained reading of Gary MacFarland's beautiful "Sack Full of Dreams" with Gibbs on organ. The date concludes with a rocking rendition of George Duvivier's "Foot Pattin'" featuring the four tenors swinging and boppin', stompin' and screaming their way through a concise history of the saxophone for a grand finale.


Odean Pope
Two Dreams
CIMP
2004

Odean Pope is a saxophone master who deserves much more credit for his multidimensional musical conception and courageously distinctive sound.

This quartet date, comprised of eight emotionally and intellectually stimulating original songs, with alto saxophonist Carl Grubbs, bassist Tyrone Brown and drummer Craig McGiver, reveals the Philadelphian leader's narrative style which, while displaying a connection to Rollins, Coltrane, Coleman and Ayler, remains uniquely personal. Pope's music is full of contrasts—simplicity and sophistication, freedom and formalism, individuality and collectivism—and each of the players arises admirably to its challenges, contributing to the overall success of the date.

Grubbs is an excellent foil for Pope and Brown and McIver both play significant roles compositionally as well as accompanists. The music moves through a variety of moods—swinging to exotic, contemplative to extroverted—in a manner that defies description. This is rewarding music that needs to be carefully listened to in order to be enjoyed and understood.


Live at Baker's Keyboard Lounge

Tracks: 1. Tricotism (9:23); 2. Soul Street (8:16); 3. Freedom Jazz Dance (9:26); 4. I Can't Get Started (7:09); 5. Free and Easy (10:39); 6. Low Flame (10:21); 7. Sack Full of Dreams (11:59); 8. Foot Pattin' (11:28).
Personnel: Dwight Adams: Trumpet; Richard "Pistol" Allen: Drums; Ralph Armstrong: Bass; James Carter: Saxophones; Kenny Cox: Piano; Gerard Gibbs: Organ; Johnny Griffin: Tenor Sax; Franz Jackson: Tenor Sax, Vocals; Leonard King: Drums; David Murray: Tenor Sax; Larry Smith: Alto Sax.

Two Dreams

Tracks: Turn Me Loose; The Foliage; Quick; Two Dreams; Seed of the Land; Fifth House; AnDar; Lines for Four.
Personnel: Odean Pope: tenor saxophone; Carl Grubbs: alto saxophone; Tyrone Brown: bass; Craig McIver: drums.

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