382

James Carter: Present Tense

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
James Carter: Present Tense Omnipresent in the late 1990s, James Carter's output has been erratic ever since Atlantic Records (his former label) dissolved their jazz department in 2000. A pleasing return to form, Present Tense is the poll-winning multi-instrumentalist's first recording in three years, ably produced by the renowned Michael Cuscuna, whose goal was to "capture the breadth of James' mastery of this music."

After a string of concept albums, including the electric free-funk of Layin' In The Cut (Atlantic, 2000), an acoustic Django Reinhardt tribute, Chasin' The Gypsy (Atlantic, 2000), a string-laden homage to Billie Holiday, Gardenias For Lady Day (Columbia, 2003) and the recent ode to seminal indie rockers Pavement, Gold Sounds (Brown Brothers, 2005), Carter returns to more conventional territory on his Emarcy Records debut.

Carter demonstrates his diverse talents on an array of horns in a subtly varied program that is closer in spirit to his early DIW recordings than his recent thematic output. An accessible mix of ballads, blues, bop, swing and Latin tunes, the bulk of the session consists of obscure covers, with three pieces written by the leader.

Trumpeter Dwight Adams, pianist D.D. Jackson, bassist James Genus and drummer Victor Lewis make up the core quartet, with special guest appearances by guitarist Rodney Jones and percussionist Eli Fountain. Refraining from prolix testimonials, Carter keeps his statements short and concise, with ample solo room allotted for his sidemen.

Although he possesses a notorious penchant for showy pyrotechnics, Carter is a staunch traditionalist at heart—this session highlights his poetic side, largely avoiding histrionics. A nostalgic vibe permeates the session, further reinforcing Carter's tough but tender approach.

The album mixes up-tempo fare with languorous excursions, swinging from the first note with the brisk bop of Stanley Turrentine's "Rapid Shave." Adams and Jackson contribute pithy statements before Carter launches the tune into the stratosphere with a capricious baritone solo. Carter handles the big horn with imposing dexterity on Gigi Gryce's up-tempo cooker "Hymn of the Orient."

A dynamic vehicle for Carter's spasmodic bass clarinet, "Bro. Dolphy" pays homage to the great multi- instrumentalist Eric Dolphy, framing a solemn blues with blistering free-bop. Arriving from the opposite end of the instrumental spectrum, the relaxed bop of "Dodo's Bounce" displays Carter's deft flute skills.

Rich with effusive lyricism, the romantic soprano feature "Pour Que Ma Vie Demeure," cinematic bass clarinet meditation "Shadowy Sands" and opulent tenor-driven tango "Sussa Nita" offer lithe euphony.

Only "Song of Delilah" sounds out of place with its subtle hip-hop rhythmic inflections and overdubbed tenor—his chosen horn on the percussively buoyant "J.C. Bossa." "Tenderly" closes the album with an extended feature for the leader's supple baritone and Adams' Harmon-muted horn.

While by no means conceptually groundbreaking, Present Tense gracefully captures Carter's impressive abilities as a foremost interpreter of America's greatest art form.


Track Listing: Rapid Shave; Bro. Dolphy; Pour Que Ma Vie Demeure; Sussa Nita; Song of Delilah; Dodo's Bounce; Shadow Sands; Hymn of the Orient; Bossa J.C.; Tenderly.

Personnel: James Carter: flute, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Dwight Adams: trumpet, flugelhorn; D.D. Jackson: piano; Rodney Jones: guitar (4, 6, 9); James Genus: bass; Victor Lewis: drums; Eli Fountain: congas, percussion (4, 7, 9).

Year Released: 2008 | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Cantos Invisíveis" CD/LP/Track Review Cantos Invisíveis
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Ubuntu" CD/LP/Track Review Ubuntu
by James Nadal
Published: March 29, 2016
Read "Garden 2nd Set" CD/LP/Track Review Garden 2nd Set
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 2, 2016
Read "Now And Then" CD/LP/Track Review Now And Then
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 20, 2016
Read "A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke" CD/LP/Track Review A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 9, 2016
Read "La Diversité" CD/LP/Track Review La Diversité
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 31, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!