Today I’m featuring a jazz musician who isn’t that well known amongst many jazz lovers but to me this saxophone beast is as good as any of the famous players.
He has a very rebellious and sometimes humorous way of playing and is never boring. An effusive, dynamically gifted jazz saxophonist I can listen to for hours and hours, for days on end…
James Carter was born on January 3 1969 in Detroit , Michigan, and learned to play under the tutelage of Donald Washington, becoming a member of his youth jazz ensemble Bird-Trane-Sco-NOW!! As a young man, Carter attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, becoming the youngest faculty member at the camp. He began playing at age 11 and studied early on with trumpeter Marcus Belgrave. A prodigy, he progressed quickly. He first toured Scandinavia with the International Jazz Band in 1985 at the age of 16. At age17 he joined Wynton Marsalis on tour.
On May 31, 1988, at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), Carter was a last-minute addition for guest artist Lester Bowie, which turned into an invitation to play with his new quintet (forerunner of his New York Organ Ensemble) in New York City that following November at the now defunct Carlos 1 jazz club. This was pivotal in Carter’s career, putting him in musical contact with the world, and he moved to New York two years later. Carter issued no less than six recordings under his own name between 1993 and 2000, all of them with different focuses, from a set of standards, Conversin’ with the Elders in 1995, to an electric funk record, Layin’ in the Cut, to a simultaneously released set in tribute to Django Reinhardt, Chasin the Gypsy. Three years later, he honored the legendary Billie Holiday with Gardenias for Lady Day.
He has been prominent as a performer and recording artist on the jazz scene since the late 1980s, playing saxophones, flute, and clarinets. On his album Chasin’ the Gypsy (2000), he recorded with his cousin, the jazz violinist Regina Carter.
Carter has won DownBeat magazine’s Critics and Readers Choice award for baritone saxophone several years in a row. He has performed, toured and played on albums with Lester Bowie, Julius Hemphill, Frank Lowe & the Saxemble, Kathleen Battle, the World Saxophone Quartet, Cyrus Chestnut, Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Mingus Big Band.
Carter is an authority on vintage saxophones, and he owns an extensive collection of such instruments, including one formerly played by Don Byas.
“One of the most charismatic and powerful soloists in jazz,” per the New York Times, Carter harbors a command of his instruments that is astonishingly complete, though he only employs that technique in the service of canny ideas. Even when he appears on the verge of shattering his horn, overblowing rapid-fire lines to otherworldly effect, he’s evoking early jazz, jump blues, the avant-garde and other lessons residing inside his vast, scholarly knowledge of the music of the African-American experience.
Check him out (or not):
Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas