James Carter, Out of Nowhere (Half Note 4520)
With Out of Nowhere, James Carter offers a second consecutive live disc—this time with his organ trio—on the heels of last year’s tribute to Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in his hometown,
Or so he’d have us believe.
Carter seems to thrive on attention, and in a club setting—placed so intimately with an appreciative crowd looking to be impressed—he’s particularly extroverted in displaying his technical range. A notable example here is his early soprano solo on Benny Golson’s “Along Came Betty,” a frenzied invention that proceeds through a long, varied series of tones and textures, and eventually culminates with Carter inventing new notes in the far reaches of the upper registers. Later in the track, Carter returns with a second improvisation that sounds, variously, as though it’s being transmitted from underwater and sung by a chorus of bumblebees. Carter, it appears, never gets tired of invigorating conventions through expressive novelty. This is not your standard organ trio.
Fittingly, the saxophonist shares improvising space on other tracks with guest artists (and fellow extroverts) James “Blood” Ulmer on guitar, and Hamiet Bluiett on baritone sax. Ulmer’s metallic picking and plangent effects complement the textural diversity of Carter’s baritone playing on the guitarist’s “Highjack,” and Bluiett’s guttural tone fuses seamlessly with Carter’s as they pair baritones on a sped-up version of the R. Kelly pop ballad, “I Believe I Can Fly.”
The effect of these pairings is rarely understated, but for those of us with a taste for pyrotechnics, it’s undoubtedly enjoyable.