The organ combo reigned for several decades as jazz’s meat-and-potatoes mainstay, a populist vehicle for blues-drenched blowing. In the hands of James Carter, one of jazz’s most sophisticated improvisers, the organ trio is no less meaty and satisfying. But his virtuosic saxophone chops elevate the organ combo to a rarefied realm defined by delectable soul, a gourmet repertoire, and consistently inspired group interplay.
Featuring the lithe and muscular keyboard work of Detroit’s rising B3 star Gerard Gibbs and the propulsive drum support of Motor City trap master Alex White, the multigenerational James Carter Organ Trio is now in its seventeenth year.
James Carter presents us with James Carter’s Elektrik Outlet, a new configuration within which he has found a new groove to explore. Shifting his sax into a keen array of electronics and pedals just might be the perfect “outlet” for Carter to tap into that “frustrated guitarist” that he often describes himself to be. An excellent selection of tunes from Eddie Harris, Gene Ammons, Al Jarreau, Stevie Wonder, Minnie Ripperton and others provides impetus for Carter’s Elektrik Outlet to sizzle, slide, and pop. Adding energy to the group are fellow Detroit artists, Gerard Gibbs on electronic keyboards, Ralphe Armstrong on electric bass and Alex White on drums.
Sometimes it takes an extraordinary talent to inspire an unprecedented piece of music. For Puerto Rican–born composer Roberto Sierra, the epiphany struck in the midst of a tenor saxophone solo by James Carter, who was appearing as the featured soloist with legendary soprano Kathleen Battle. Long fascinated by the horn, Sierra immediately realized he had encountered a master capable of playing anything he could imagine. Working closely with Carter over several months, he composed a four-part concerto that seamlessly integrates the forms and harmonic language of contemporary classical music, Latin rhythms, and jazz’s improvisational imperative.