Saxophonist James Carter has established himself as a player of impressive facility, drawing on the post-Trane-Ayler vocabulary of squeals and frenzied tonalities, and integrating it into a hard-swinging, postmodern style that's alternately edgy and smooth as it threads together various strains from jazz's past a typical Carter move is the way he blurs, on this new disc's "Down to the River," the line between gut-bucket primitivism and avant-garde sophistication, linking the two approaches' common theme of expressive exultation. His approach may not have quite the same punch that it did a few years ago he's too much a known quantity now but he remains, it seems, constitutionally incapable of playing a dull solo.
The new twist on Carterian is the presence of the Hammond organ, played alternately by Henry Butler, who favors a funky approach, Craig Taborn, who reaches for "outside" effects, and Cyrus Chestnut, who likes it lyrical. As we've come to expect from Carter, the program is varied and well-paced, ranging from the muscular ballad "Lockjaw's Lament" to the frenzied whoosh of the appropriately titled "Skull Grabbin'." A ferociously fecund player, Carter dominates the session it takes a few listens to appreciate the contributions of Dwight Adams' spidery, muted trumpet and Kevin Carter's quietly raunchy guitar and at times it seems as though he's percolating with more ideas than he can get out. But he does and that's why, moment by moment, he's one of the most exciting players on the scene.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.