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James Carter Organ Trio: Out of Nowhere

James Carter follows up last year’s Live at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge with another spirited live session, this time from the Blue Note in New York. Backed by Gerard Gibbs on organ and Leonard King on drums, Carter plays tenor on an achingly slow “Out of Nowhere,” then switches to soprano for “Along Came Betty” in an uptempo 3/4 feel. On both horns, Carter transcends mere line playing, deploying endless timbral inflections over Gibbs’ shimmering chords.

Following this, a jam-session atmosphere prevails as James “Blood” Ulmer and Hamiet Bluiett join for Ulmer’s “Highjack,” a quick-paced modal vamp. Ulmer chimes in with fractured harmonies and stinging wah-wah asides, leading up to Carter and Bluiett’s first baritone-sax shout-fest of the set. The two baritones are at their sweetest, however, on Bluiett’s “Song for Camille,” a 12-minute, major-key ballad. Ulmer returns to deliver a pungent blues vocal on “Little Red Rooster” and remains for the finale, a bright bossa rendition of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.” Two full-on baritone saxes do little to redeem this treacly number, but on balance, Out of Nowhere features worthy attestations from provocative kindred spirits.

Originally Published