Tenorist/sopranoist Paul Carr has been a fixture on the Washington, D.C., area jazz scene for many years. The self-produced Just Noodlin’ is his second album as a leader and his first since 1993. Carr’s frontline companions for the occasion are the fine trumpeter Terell Stafford and a basic rhythm section consisting of pianist Andrew Adair, bassist Gavin Fallow and drummer Steve Williams. Pianists Bob Butta or Vince Evans, bassist Michael Bowie and drummer Harold Summey substitute on three tracks and percussionist Sam Turner appears on one. The band’s music is updated hard bop, and all the players know the language well. Hank Mobley’s “Pat ’n’ Chat” and Coltrane’s arrangement of “But Not for Me” are typical, though the program also includes a Latin “Alfie," a gospel-like “If I Can Help Somebody” and the ballad “You’ve Changed” (by Carey and Fischer, not “Carrie Fischer” as listed).
Stafford is especially effective with inventive, in-the-pocket improvisations. Carr has the husky tone identified with the Houston of his youth and ample technique to express his brimming ideas. On faster tunes like “But Not for Me,” however, he and the rhythm section sometimes sound a bit out of sync.