James Carter: Pour Que Ma Vie Demeure


Pour Que Ma Vie Demeure


James Carter (soprano sax)


Present Tense (Emarcy B0010985-2)

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James Carter (soprano sax),

D.D. Jackson (piano), James Genus (bass), Victor Lewis (drums)


Composed by Django Reinhardt


Recorded: New York, September 21-23, 2007


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

For Present Tense, producer Michael Cuscuna was able to rein in James Carter's sometimes over-the-top, unfocused tendencies, resulting in perhaps the saxophonist's finest outing to date. Carter reminds one in a way of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Unlike Kirk, he plays only one of his many instruments at a time; but he plays each with equally spirited proficiency, and has an eclectic taste that extends from traditional jazz to the avant-garde.

Carter unearths an endearing Django Reinhardt ballad, "Pour Que Ma Vie Demeure," that Django himself never recorded, and elects to perform it on soprano sax in a style that pays unabashed homage to the nonpareil Sidney Bechet. (For Carter's extended tribute to Django, check out his Chasin' the Gypsy.) Carter's wide, sweet vibrato, alluring lyricism, and technical control are the key components that make this track so successful. After Carter's glowing interpretation of the theme, Genus and Jackson follow with melodic, unpretentious solos that set the stage for the leader, who improvises with total command and great emotional depth. Midway through, Carter's tone hardens and he modernizes his attack by introducing more dissonant elements and some vocalized effects, while also increasing the density of his phrasing. However, his remarkable coda alone should satisfy and placate even the moldiest of figs. Bravo!

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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