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James Carter
LIVE AT BAKERíS KEYBOARD LOUNGE
(Warner Bros.)
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Saxophone genius Carter has moved on to Columbia, but this one-off with Warner Bros. represents the end of his relationship with the conglomerateís dissolved Atlantic Jazz imprint. Itís a hot-blooded Detroit homecoming for Carter, an old-fashioned blowing session full of blues and well-chosen standards recorded over the course of three nights, with special guests like David Murray and Johnny Griffin.

Carterís a hyperactive master of every horn in every register, capable of fashioning solos from material inside and outside the changes and providing an infinite variety of shapes and textures for his notes at any speed. Which at times can be offputting. From his first circular breathing exercise on soprano in the opening tune, Oscar Pettifordís "Tricotism," youíll know whether youíre in the mood for him. But it would take a hardened jazz heart indeed to resist the wealth of ideas and colors that pour out of his baritone on Leonard Featherís "Low Flame." When you hear high-speed, tightly articulated runs in the tenorís altissimo register on "Freedom Jazz Dance," you might at first think itís Carter until you remember that he learned stuff like this from Murray, who guests here. As for additional voices, tenor player Franz Jackson delivers a hilarious vocal bowdlerization of "I Canít Get Started," Larry Smith plays some dandy blues Bird calls on alto, Dwight Adams offers Dizzy-like tart trumpet respite from all the reed action, and organist Gerard Gibbsís solo on Jimmy Forrestís "Soul Street" is nice and sticky until he almost ruins it by going off into snyth-like imitations of a Take 6 a cappella vocal group. But allís forgiven, especially after the four-tenor summit of Murray, Jackson, Griffin, and Carter on George Duvivierís "Foot Pattiní."

BY JON GARELICK


Issue Date: April 16 - 22, 2004
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