James Carter: Out of Nowhere & Gold Sounds


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James Carter Organ Trio
Out of Nowhere
Half Note

Like last year's superb major-label-contract-fulfilling blowing session Live at Baker's Keyboard Lounge, the elders James Carter invited to the Blue Note in New York City for this date don't so much reign him in as provide justification for his flashier moves. Hamiet Bluiett excels on his "Song for Camille, a duet with Carter's baritone that soaks the ballad in the blues. Guitarist James "Blood Ulmer turns in echofied wah-wah on "Highjack ; keyboard master Gerard Gibbs keeps things fine and mellow throughout and especially on the title track; and Carter is his usual growly and robust self on tenor and baritone, while attacking the soprano with a midrange buzz, forceful overblowing and high-pitched circular breathing for "Along Came Betty. The brief but greasy "Little Red Rooster features Blood's world-weary vocals. A guileless cover of R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly, with extended solos from the musicians and improvisational abstractions from Carter and Bluiett, bumps the tempo up a bit to turn syrup into samba. These brazen players manage to pull it off.

Gold Sounds
Brown Brothers Recordings

Where Out of Nowhere nods to the past in regular jazz fashion, Gold Sounds nods to a more recent past in an altogether irregular way: with a collection of Pavement covers. A man must live in his times and credit Carter/Chestnut/Veal/Ali with keeping their ears open to music that postdates post-bop. Whether the alt-rock low-key slacker anti-anthems of Stephen Malkmus and Co. lend themselves to instrumental makeovers quickly becomes immaterial as the band tears into the tunes with plinking, spacey keyboards, funk bass and drumming that fires like pistons. Carter's reference in this setting might be Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who never met a tune (from any era) that he wouldn't overhaul, a connection made most explicitly on "Cut Your Hair , which combines screaming, maximum-load soprano playing and doo-doo-ooo-wee vocals that lead to a rousing finish. Chalk it up to the Bad Plus effect: there might be more that joins Pavement and Parker than first meets the ear.

Out of Nowhere

Tracks: Out of Nowhere; Along Came Betty; Highjack; Song for Camille; Little Red Rooster; I Believe I Can Fly.

Personnel: James Carter: tenor, soprano, baritone saxophones; Gerard Gibbs: organ; Leonard King: drums; Hamiett Bluiett: baritone saxophone; James "Blood Ulmer: guitar, vocals.

Gold Sounds

Tracks: Stereo; My First Mine; Cut Your Hair; Summer Babe; Blue Hawaiian; Here; Platform Blues; Trigger; Cut/Wounded-Kite at :17

Personnel: James Carter: saxophones; Cyrus Chestnut: keyboards; Ali Jackson, Jr.: percussion; Reginald Veal: bass and vocals.

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