James Carter Organ Trio: Live From Newport Jazz
It’s not every day that you hear a trio consisting of saxophone, organ and drums performing a set of songs written by a guitarist—Django Reinhardt, no less— but none of that territory is especially alien to James Carter, the Detroit-based sax man who’s helming the project. Carter has long had a soft spot for the organ, and has previously recorded with organ trios. Nor is Carter a stranger to the music of Django—his 2000 release Chasin’ the Gypsy was his first full-length tribute to the master. It all comes together in a sublime way on this live set from Newport, Carter’s first for Blue Note Records, produced by label president Don Was. Carter’s accompanists here, Gerard Gibbs playing the Hammond B-3 and Alexander White on drums, are well-suited to the task at hand, understanding the edgier tone that Carter seeks to bring to these nuggets, giving his often-aggressive blowing just the power it needs to take off. Carter wails like a wild man from the get-go on the opener, “Le Manoir De Mes Reves,” and Gibbs supplies the soulful muscle that’s required to give the saxophonist the push he requires; White, meanwhile, stays on track without deviation, laying down a steady groove while the other two crank it up. Besides, White will get his chance to let it all hang out soon enough: His solo volley on “La Valse Des Niglos” is explosive, opening up the floodgates that allow Carter and Gibbs to go where Django music rarely does.