James Carter set the standard on the opening day of the 38th annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. While his talents on a multitude of reed instruments are well known in modern jazz circles, he expanded his sphere of admirers with an explosive performance that was particularly in tune with the Crescent City. Audiences here are accustomed to those on the bandstand enjoying themselves and sharing the love. That important aspect, which many believe grew out of the classic jazz tradition, is sometimes misunderstood and considered not a serious approach to the music, though it has proven itself worthy in the voices of such legends as Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Sun Ra, as well as such New Orleans purveyors as drummer Herlin Riley and pianist David Torkanowsky.
After the set, Gerald Gibbs, the organist in this happy trio that also features drummer Leonard King, offered that the similarities between his Detroit home and New Orleans-their sizes and deep musical and family roots-might factor into the musicians’ warm approach.