Music Calendar

James Carter


Fiery saxophonist James Carter leads drummer Leonard King and organist Gerard Gibbs in what the Boston Globe calls “a killer soul jazz outfit”. Although Carter is the front man of the trio of Detroit natives, all three talented musicians shine in the spunky, up-beat grooves that the band seems to effortlessly produce.

Ever since he arrived in New York City from his native Detroit at age 21, James Carter’s awesome virtuosity on a number of instruments and his postmodernist embrace of the past, present, and future of jazz have been causing listeners’ jaws to drop. A consistent winner and/or runner-up in Down Beat polls, the now 43 year old musician most recently placed at number one on baritone saxophone and at nine on tenor saxophone in the magazine’s Readers Poll, and at number two on baritone and ten on tenor in the Critics Poll.

His latest release is 2011′s At The Crossroads, which he recorded with the James Carter Organ Trio. The album adds a dynamic new chapter in the Detroit-born, New York-based saxophonist’s story, which took root in the early ‘90s, first as a sideman with mentors such as Lester Bowie, and as a leader in his own right.

Carter spent his youth taking saxophone lessons, studying the classics of the masters broadcast on several Detroit public radio jazz shows, and voraciously listening to any records that came into his possession. Given his love of classic jazz, Carter was erroneously grouped into that ‘90s catchall category of young jazz lions. But instead of expressing jazz neoconservatism, he was in motion, breaking new ground with his trad-meets-avant style of propulsion and his dazzling displays of reeds pyrotechnics as well as his heartfelt romanticism.

He is fueled by a deep respect and knowledge of jazz tradition and has proven himself to be versatile in his musical ventures, often exploring genres other than the post-bop jazz for which is he most famous. Carter’s various releases span a range of differing focuses, including 2000’s electro-funk record, Layin’ in the Cut, and 2011’s Caribbean Rhapsody, which features multiple orchestral collaborations with composer Roberto Sierra.

Drummer Leonard King began his musical career by banging on anything that would crate a rhythm, from spoons on pots and pans to paint cans. His parents took the hint and signed King up for drum lessons, and the rest is history. King is the founder of Uuquipleu (yoo-kee-ploo) Records and has played with Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Eddie Kendricks.

Organist Gerard Gibbs began his musical training with classical piano at the age of nine and gained his love of jazz music from his father, who introduced him to the soulful organ music of Richard “Groove” Holmes. Gibbs idolized Holmes’ organ grooves and would later study with him. Gibbs frequently appears with James Carter, as well as with his own ensemble, Gerard Gibbs & ORGANized Crime. Gibbs formed his ensemble to commemorate the teachings of Holmes and to fully embrace his love for the Hammond B-3 organ.

The Trio performing “Walk the Dog” in Madison Square Park (2010)

What Other People Have Been Saying...

“However complex the charts or the improvisation, their music flows as easily as a 12-bar blues. The band sound huge, and charge ahead like a train: there’s boogaloo, swing and hard bop…”-The Guardian UK

“James Carter has cemented his reputation as one of the most adventurous, visionary young reed players on the cusp of this new millennium…. Not as an outsider, but as one of the most exciting young virtuosos in contemporary music….”
- Chip Stern, JAZZ TIMES

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Layin' In The Cut
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