James Carter: Odyssey




James Carter (bass clarinet)


In Carterian Fashion (83082-2)

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James Carter (bass clarinet),

Dwight Adams (trumpet), Cassius Richmond (alto sax), Henry Butler (organ), Leonard King (drums)


Composed by Kenneth Green


Recorded: New York, circa 1998


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

James Carter doesn't create unconventional mash-ups of different styles just to be hip; he's adept at making these mélanges coherent. Take, for instance, the sleek blues of "Odyssey."

Henry Butler's brawny organ, bass pedals and all, steers the music closer to Rod Argent than to Jimmy Smith, while the odd lineup of bass clarinet, alto sax and muted trumpet hints at prewar jazz. At first, Carter and altoist Cassius Richmond play the thematic line together, and trumpeter Dwight Adams plays around it. Before long, the slick groove is interrupted by a breakdown moment where the song briefly falls apart into total freedom before quickly reforming again. After Butler solos, the horn players do so all at once, sounding like both Dixieland and avant-garde played over blues chords.

It may all seem strange, but "Odyssey" exudes cool, confident swagger, even when chaos lurks around the corner.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron

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