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James Carter Organ Trio – “Django Unchained”

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Soul Jazz Giant

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Sunday, Jun 22, 2014

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Layin' In The Cut
Layin' In The Cut

James Carter Organ Trio

James Carter – saxophones, Gerard Gibbs – B3 Organ, Leonard King – drums

James Carter is back in town. One of the most admired saxophonists of his generation and a powerful force in today’s jazz scene, James Carter’s playing is firmly rooted in 20th-century African American culture.

The sweep of his imagination and the power of his technique embraces the whole saxophone tradition in jazz which he has extended into the 21st century through his resolutely contemporary outlook, prompting Hi-Fi UK magazine to dub him a “Modern sax God.”

“Tribute albums and tribute bands are often content with summoning up old ghosts. Saxophonist, James Carter, took a more rewarding approach on his excellent CD, CHASIN’ THE GYPSY and he continues that approach with his Organ Trio’s Tribute performances to the music of Django Reinhardt by offering up fresh takes on the music of the French Gypsy guitarist. He does so by substituting his own instrument in the lead role. Carter, whether he’s playing tenor or soprano sax, shows off a sweet, sinuous tone; when he reinterprets Reinhardt’s classic Nuages with a bass sax, the muscular sound is distancing at first, but then it wraps itself around the listener like an anaconda. These performances, like the CD do more than invoke Reinhardt’s spirit; they have a life of their own.” – TIME MAGAZINE

About James Carter Organ Trio

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.

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.

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

“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….”

“Carter’s delivery has the energy to burst the seams of any setting. This performance similarly featured breathtaking cadenzas, unaccompanied torrents of notes and high-pitched squeaks that re-solved peacefully to consonance. the strongest impression was of a tight-knit working band extending the reach and range of a classic formula. As a unit they retain the shuffles, bounce and romance that lie at the heart of organ combo jazz, but add an academician’s grasp of history and a knowing contemporary resonance.”  – FINANCIAL TIMES