James Carter

Live at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge

Now 35, tenor man James Carter (who gigged with Wynton Marsalis while still in high school) is equally at home at both ends of the reed spectrum, playing (as he does here) soprano and baritone saxes in addition to tenor (primarily). A fluid, protean musician, he’s equally adept at playing “inside” and “outside” and proves it here on several tunes where in the space of a single chorus he switches from mainstream to jet stream. The three-night gig features guest sax men David Murray (with whom he gets really free on Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance”), Larry Smith, Johnny Griffin and Franz Jackson, who plays and sings winningly on a musically straight but lyrically twisted “I Can’t Get Started;” e.g., “Lena Horne invited me to tea, I got drunk again and crawled around on my knees.” Trumpeter Dwight Adams lends a capable hand on Leonard Feather’s “Low Flame,” a very relaxed outing. With mostly straight-ahead tunes, this CD is guaranteed to stretch your ears now and then.