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When historians look back at jazz around the turn of this century, they will have a hard time finding multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter. That's because Carter has not made a single record as a leader. His outspoken collectivist orientation means that he only participates within a more open social context (such as the free improv groups TEST or Other Dimensions In Music). Luminescence is the inaugural disc for the Daniel Carter binand as far as this reviewer can tell, it might also be the last. But that has no bearing whatsoever on Carter's vision or his continuing output.
Whoever's name goes first on the disc, Luminescence is just as much a collective effort as anything else either player has done. Reuben Radding, a bassist who met Carter in his home city of New York a decade ago, urged him to come to Seattle for a duo recording. And so it happened. Unfortunately 9/11 happened first, which meant Carter had to leave all his instruments except the alto saxophone at home. Just as well; within the compelled focus on one instrument, he delves deep and brings out a rich variety of tone and texture. Radding has the insight to complement the upper midrange, traveling above and beyond the usual bass zone.
Luminescence opens with a soft held overtone, bass and saxophone gradually resolving as they drift apart through close intervals. The interaction between these two players is subtle and intuitive, though each asserts his own personality quite freely. Carter's travels bring him through soft whispers, a classic swinging sound, crisp bird-like cries, and the overblown multiphonics that have become the hallmark of today's free jazz community. Most surprising and quite effective are the sweet, rounded lines that strongly suggest Paul Desmond or Stan Getz, as on "Refracted Light And Grace." Reuben Radding has long ago gone beyond the bass's usual role as underpinning and root. His voice intertwines with Carter's, rolls gently below, oras the record progressestravels through a succession of compact intersecting riffs. Both players prefer water to fire, fluidity to spark, rolling waves to crashing foam.
In the end, the absence of an ostensible leader is what makes Luminescence work. The outstanding subtlety and sensitivity exhibited by both musicians certainly does not call attention to itself, but it rewards a close ear. This is one of the most brilliantly understated documents ever to emerge from the bubbling cauldron of today's New York free improv scene.
Track Listing: You And I Are Disappearing; Ancestral Voyage-Mystery Succeed; Refracted Light
And Grace; Blessing The Ride; Vignettes; Qualcosa Verso Azzurro; Occurrences,
Places, Entities, And The Sea.
Personnel: Daniel Carter: alto saxophone; Reuben Radding: bass.