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Layin' In the Cut

James Carter

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Album Review

The second of James Carter's pair of 2000 releases shifts wildly, and perhaps trendily, toward electric funk, as the title cut proclaims within seconds. It's really a loose, collective electric jam session with all of the risks, occasional hot streaks, and passages of torpor that the term implies. Oddly enough, the tracks that really make it are those that are credited to only one composer: guitarist Jef Lee Johnson's stimulating Prime Time-like melee, "Terminal 8," that gathers momentum like a freight train; Carter's cooking "There's a Puddle" that explodes into a freeform burst on cue at the end; and Carter's "GP." The collectively credited pieces are the ones that tend to go nowhere, often desperately in need of editing or clear direction. At all times, though, Carter is a freewheeling dynamo on soprano and tenor saxes, not afraid to reach wildly to the outside even when the funk backgrounds are merely mild mannered. Carter draws from the New York City avant-garde scene for help: Marc Ribot is the other electric guitarist, Jamaaladeen Tacuma plays bass, and the volatile drummer G. Calvin Weston tries with partial success to mix things up. Carter says that he intends to pursue this direction in the future — with hopefully less diffuse results. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Biography

Born: January 3, 1969 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

After Wynton Marsalis, no one caused more of an uproar than James Carter did when he appeared on the New York jazz scene from his native Detroit. Carter's debut recording, JC on the Set, issued in Japan when he was only 23, and in the States a year later in 1993, was universally acclaimed as the finest debut by a saxophonist in decades. Critics lauded his ability to play in virtually any jazz style without appearing to ape anyone. Carter, who began playing at 11 and studied with trumpeter Marcus...
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Layin' In the Cut, James Carter
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