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Our video spotlight shines this week on the versatile multi-instrumentalist James Carter, who will be in St. Louis next Wednesday, May 12 through Saturday, May 15 to perform at Jazz at the Bistro. Carter also will present a free saxophone clinic and master class from 11:00 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 15 at Saxquest, 2114 Cherokee St.
Carter is known for being able to play in a variety of styles, from modern abstraction to gut-bucket blues, on many different horns, including soprano, tenor and baritone saxes, flute, bass clarinet, and rarely-seen instruments like the bass and contrabass saxes.
The Detroit native first gained wide public attention in the early 1990s, and has recorded more than a dozen albums as a leader. In addition to leading his own bands, he has performed and recorded with musicians including St. Louis native Lester Bowie, former St. Louisan Julius Hemphill, the World Saxophone Quartet, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Cyrus Chestnut, Rodney Whitaker, Frank Lowe, pop-jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and the Charles Mingus Big Band.
For his gig next week, Carter will lead his organ trio, a long-running ensemble that offers a contemporary take on the classic organ/tenor/drums configuration. Today's video clips show Carter, organist Gerard Gibbs and drummer Leonard King performing Eddie Harris' Winter Meeting" and the swinging blues Soul Street" at the Burghausen Internationale Jazzwoche 2004.
As a lagniappe, at the bottom you can see a short demo of Carter playing the bass sax, getting around on the giant horn as easily as he does on the tenor. For more of Carter's organ trio, check out this 2009 NPR broadcast from their set at the Newport Jazz Festival.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.