James Carter Organ Trio | SPACE | Jazz | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Fri., July 27, 8 p.m. 2012
Price: $17-$30

Few reedists can match James Carter when it comes to technical bravado and instrumental showmanship. But though the Detroit native has an astonishing talent for fusing raucous, honking R&B, ecstatic gospel, and searing free jazz, he's also had a tendency to mistake freakish acrobatics for profound expression. Over a career spanning more than two decades, though, he's gradually reined things in—he sounds as focused as he's ever been on last year's At the Crossroads (Emarcy), cut with his organ trio, which features old Motor City cohorts Gerald Gibbs on organ and Leonard King Jr. on drums. Stylistically the album covers the full diapason of blues-based forms: hard bop on Matthew Gee's "Oh Gee," straight-up jump blues on "The Walking Blues," a dirty shuffle on Jack McDuff's "Walking the Dog" funk on "Lettuce Toss Yo' Salad" (yeesh), avant-garde fireworks on Julius Hemphill's "The Hard Blues." It can feel a bit all over the place, but the energy never flags and the vibe is infectiously fun. And when Carter zeroes in on a specific mood—the wild, celebratory screams he plays in the baritone's upper register on "The Walking Blues," for instance, or his tart tenderness on the ballad "My Whole Life Through"—he's hard to resist. At this show, without the album's slew of guest musicians competing with him for space, he ought to be at his best. —Peter Margasak  A

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