James Carter

Present Tense

James Carter’s latest features the multi- reedman fronting a quintet in a selection of 10 tunes that range from atmospheric (e.g. “Shadowy Sands,” a Latin-flavored piece that Duke Ellington used to spotlight his baritone saxman, Harry Carney, on bass clarinet) to stratospheric (“Bro. Dolphy,” Carter’s homage to saxophonist Eric Dolphy). Trumpeter Dwight Adams, who helps heat things up on altoist Gigi Gryce’s boppy uptempo “Hymn of the Orient” (with Carter on bari sax—whoo!) is showcased on a lovingly rendered “Tenderly” but seems to run out of steam on the opening track—“Rapid Shave”—another bopping item. Carter is equally at home on flute (q.v. “Dodo’s Bounce,” a tune by pianist Dodo Marmarosa), soprano sax (he does an outstanding job on Django Reinhardt’s “Pour Que Ma Vie Demeure”) and especially on tenor sax (his “main” instrument) as he so eloquently demonstrates on “Bossa J.C.,” a cheery number with solid solos by guest guitarist Rodney Jones, Adams and Carter. Carter’s tenor is also to the fore in his own “Sussa Nita,” and pianist D.D. Jackson shows what he can do, which, it turns out, is plenty. Another fine document from this 39-year-old jazzman.