James Carter: 'Round Midnight
James Carter (baritone sax)
The Real Quietstorm (Atlantic Jazz 82742)
Recorded: Power Station, New York, October 6, 7 and November 20, 1994
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
On his CD The Real Quietstorm, James Carter plays baritone sax . . . and tenor sax, alto sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet and bass flute. And plays them well. Of course, such versatility is rarely rewarded in the jazz world. Rahsaan Roland Kirk is hardly ever mentioned these days when jazz aficionados talk about great flautists or great tenor saxophonists -- and his constant switching back and forth among a dozen or so horns no doubt contributes to fans' difficulty in pigeonholing him. The same might be said of Benny Carter, who may have been the greatest alto sax soloist of his generation, but would also be found gigging on trumpet or piano or trombone or writing big band charts. Now we have another Carter whose multifaceted talent resists easy generalization. This baritone sax interpretation of "'Round Midnight" rivals in quality the version that Gerry Mulligan made in his celebrated session with Monk, but its style is far different. The baritone is the linebacker among jazz horns, and Carter brings out all of its muscular attributes. And I love his sound on the instrument. Imagine what he could do if he just focused on bari? Fat chance!
Reviewer: Ted Gioia