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James Carter Organ Trio

If one wanted to define James Carter’s art in just one word, the term “versatility” would be the most adequate one. His incredible skills allow him to express himself in every conceivable style – from traditional jazz in the style of Sidney Bechet, through swing, various varieties of bebop, blues, funk-jazz, to ethnic, free and synthesis of jazz and classical music (e.g. the album “Caribbean Rhapsody”, recorded in 2011 together with the Sinfonia Varsowia Orchestra).

Like Mingus or Davis before him, Carter does not recognize the division of jazz into genres, moreover, he presents an “ahistorical” attitude towards it, treating old styles as music that is still relevant, alive, with great potential that can be used in many ways.

Currently, he has the status of one of the most charismatic virtuosos, playing all possible varieties of saxophone – from soprano to bass. He creatively uses the sound qualities of rare and historic pieces (from the 1920s and 1940s) from his extensive collection, he also eagerly reaches for clarinets and flute. He experiments with different types of mouthpieces, reeds, sometimes uses a bit of electronics – timbre and expression, always in harmony with each other, are two key elements of his music.

He showed his treatment of tradition on his debut album “JC on the Set” (1994) and developed it on “Conversin’ With The Elders” (1996), where he performed works by jazz classics and innovators: Buddy Tate, Bennie Moten, Lester Young, Parker, Coltrane and Anthony Braxton. “Gardenias For Lady Day” (2003), recorded with strings, is a tribute to Billie Holiday (Carter plays there in the style of Lester Young and Ben Webster). Over the next years, he recorded subsequent albums with the participation of outstanding musicians ( David Murray, James Blood Ulmer, Craig Taborn), gaining the recognition of his colleagues, the audience and critics. Often, especially in the 90s, he was invited to collaborate with excellent artists representing various options of jazz. He performed and recorded with Benny Golson, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, The World Saxophone Quartet, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Lester Bowie, Medeski Martin & Woods, Marcus Miller, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and even Ginger Baker; he also recorded an album with his cousin, the outstanding jazz violinist Regina Carter (“Motor City Moments”, 2000).

The albums recorded by Carter, although excellent, do not give a full insight into his capabilities. He gets real wings at concerts. It is then that he reveals his true nature. He is an expressionist type. Violent, feisty, loving to “ride the bandwagon” – when the listeners think that he has “reached the wall”, he makes a breach in it and moves forward. He has an incredible power of blowing – his instruments can barely withstand the powerful pressure of the air. Within the natural scale of the instrument, it usually works only for a moment, quickly passing into the highest registers, and then further and further, until the level of whistling, murmuring, noise. The catalogue of measures he uses is impressive. It introduces trills, various types of vibrato, glissandos, growls, puffs, mutiphonics, non-standard articulation (e.g. “smacking” with the mouthpiece), onomatopoeic and speech-imitating effects, “playing” with air, flaps, combining the sound of the saxophone with the voice, drilling narrow areas between semitones. It is worth remembering that despite all the madness, he retains a great sense of humor and distance to himself, although he treats his art extremely seriously.

– Bogdan Chmura

James Carter – saxophones
Gerard Gibbs – Hammond B3
Elmar Frey – drums


Jul 11 2024


8:00 pm


100.00 PLN

More Info



Radio Krakow
Al. Juliusz Slowacki 22