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-39-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.
Present Tense, Carter’s first album in three years, 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 such mentors as Lester Bowie and as a leader in his own right.
Carter spent his youthful days 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. Around the house Carter discovered the two-album Duke Ellington 70th Birthday Concert and The Quintessential Billie Holiday, Volume 8. “That record covered Billie’s development as a singer in the late '30s and early '40s,” he recalls. “That's where I heard Harry Sweets Edison and Lester Young for the first time. The first two records I bought were Eddie Harris' Playin' With Myself and Basie Jam No. 3, an impromptu session with Joe Pass, Louie Bellson, Benny Carter, Eddie Davis, Clark Terry, Al Grey and Al Heard."
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.
When Carter arrived on the jazz scene in the ‘90s, he was viewed as a brash youngster chomping at the bit to burst out of the gate with his saxophones. A couple of years ago when asked if his life as a soloist and bandleader had changed since he was in his thirties, he replied, “Well, I still feel the same way, but I’m able to use all the different shapes and forms in my playing better.” He paused, then added with a mélange of metaphors: “I can ping pong with someone just as well as throw the shot put. And I can do everything else in between. There are more than just a couple of events in a decathlon. I want to play a piece differently every time. That’s a hell of a tightrope walk. But when you have different attacks in your arsenal, it’s a much easier balancing act.”
Official Website: http://www.yoshis.com/sanfrancisco/jazzclub/artist/show/410
Added by Yoshis on May 1, 2010