James Carter Organ Trio – At The Crossroads – Emarcy 74:44 ****:
(James Carter – Saxophones; Leonard King Jr. – Drums – Vocals on 10; Gerard Gibbs – Organ; Miche Braden – Vocals 4, 9, 11; Brandon Ross – Guitar 4, 9, 12; Bruce Edwards – Guitar 1, 3, 6; Keyon Harrold – Trumpet 4, 9, 10; Vincent Chandler – Trombone 4, 9, 10; Eli Fountain – Tambourines 11)
Long before Detroit had Berry Gordy, the Motown Sound and the Funk Brothers, there was the Detroit of the Jones Brothers ( Hank, Alvin, Thad), as well as Paul Chambers and Kenny Burrell all of whom helped to define Detroit as a great jazz city. Now along comes James Carter who is the new voice to that city’s jazz legacy.
At The Crossroads is a melding of jazz, gospel, and blues along with a Motor City jolt all of which engages the listener. Working with Detroit sidekicks Gerard Gibbs on organ, and Leonard King Jr. on drums, Carter crafts an album full of strength and style, adding to his status as one of the leading voices in jazz today. The group bursts out of the gate with two contrasting tunes. First,” Oh Gee,” which also has Bruce Edwards on guitar—and it sets the stage for a rousing bop flight with outstanding group interplay—and then segues into a ballad “ JC Off The Set” which gives organist Gibbs a chance to stand out.
Looking for some variety to the proceedings, Carter brought in Detroit based singer Miche Braden to add her bluesy take to “The Walking Blues”, ”Ramblin’ Blues” and that gospel piece “Tis The Old Ship Of Zion”. In these first two tracks, trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and trombonist Vincent Chandler are added to the mix, providing Carter a supporting framework to improvise on both tenor and baritone sax. Harking back to their B-3 blues roots, the group offers a sensitive reading to the Sarah McLawler/Eddie Durham tune “My Whole Life Through” and then with guitarist Bruce Edwards added, delivers Jack McDuff ‘s “Walking The Dog” in a delightful groove. The Hard Blues” closes the set with Brandon Ross on guitar leading the way. There is a dynamic exchange of ideas between Carter and Ross and then entire group takes the tune out with enthusiasm.
James Carter is a monster saxophone virtuoso who is willing to get down and dirty with his organ trio. This album displays his breath-taking musical ability and versatility.
TrackList: Oh Gee; JC Off The Set; Aged Pain; The Walking Blues; My Whole Life Through; Walking The Dog; Lettuce Toss Yo’ Salad; Misterio; Ramblin’ Blues; Come Sunday; Tis The Old Ship Of Zion; The Hard Blues
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