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Gold Sounds

James Carter Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £6.53 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Biography

James Carter – bio
Caribbean Rhapsody (Emarcy Records, May 17, 2011)

Sometimes it takes an extraordinary talent to inspire an unprecedented piece of music. For Puerto Rican–born composer Roberto Sierra, the epiphany struck in the midst of a tenor saxophone solo by James Carter, who was appearing as the featured soloist with legendary soprano Kathleen Battle. Long ... Read more in Amazon's James Carter Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (27 Sep 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Brown Brothers
  • ASIN: B000AMYJK0
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 545,439 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Stereo
2. My First Mine
3. Cut Your Hair
4. Summer Babe
5. Blue Hawaiian
6. Here
7. Platform Blues
8. Trigger Cut

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Gold Sounds is an album that seeps into your sub-conscious. A great line up of musicians but masterly fronted by James Carter on, as usual, a variety of saxophones. Cyrus Chestnut provides some great contributions on the Fender Rhodes piano but its Carter that steals the show. His trade mark pirotechnics are all here but rationed with some wonderfully melodic stretches that keep the whole show together in a way that recent recordings have not. If you like James Carter's work you will not be disappointed with this - you'll love it!
If you are new to James you should buy this album, listen to it a couple of times, and then you'll be hooked.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly effective concept album 14 Nov 2005
By Troy Collins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Concept albums are tricky business, especially in the jazz world. When producers deliver a hand picked group of world class jazz improvisers material outside of their typical sphere of inspiration to re-arrange and improvise, it does not necessarily make for a solid album. While one would not be surprised to find multi-instrumentalist James Carter, keyboardist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Reginald Veal and newcomer, drummer Ali Jackson playing together, it is surprising to hear them tackling covers of Pavement tunes.

One of indie rock's most beloved of groups, Pavement was often imitated, but rarely equaled. With strong, often quirky melodies and unconventional song structures, Pavement's tunes are actually ripe vehicles for improvisation. That fact alone does not guarantee success. While "Gold Sounds" is an interesting experiment, it falls short of perfection, but surprisingly, not by much.

It is hard to imagine any of these musicians having listened to Pavement in their prime, and therefore having a vested interest in the faithfulness of their interpretations. But that willingness to re-arrange and invert these already heady structures is what makes the album a success. By not falling victim to fanboy like respect, these four expand already strong pieces into vehicles for improvisation that are by turns more complex and listenable than the average pop tune.

While James Carter has tendency to showboat on occasion, with a truckload of pyrotechnic techniques at his disposal, here his indulgences pay off. By peppering his phrases with slippery, shrill soprano twists and sputtered, multiphonic tenor blasts, Carter enriches what could otherwise become a lifeless exercise in transposing vocals to instrumental melody lines. Cyrus Chestnut alternates between piano, Fender Rhodes and Hammond B-3, sometimes playing more than one at a time. Former Wynton Marsalis bassist Reginald Veal alternates between his typical acoustic upright to play electric half the time, while previously unheard, but inventive percussionist Ali Jackson holds down the time with a stalwart groove.

Some of the tunes benefit considerably by their arrangements, others, less so. After the opening blast of "Stereo," the transition to the lyrical line is a bit awkward, but the quartet quickly finds its footing and delivers a solid improvisation based on a familiar theme. "Cut Your Hair," originally an upbeat, anthemic, shout along concert favorite, here is taken at a slower pace, with a Gospel flavor, complete with Hammond B-3 organ washes. Featuring wordless harmonic singing, the only vocals on the album, the cut has an air of the surreal to it. Concluding with a double timed climax of fervent proportions, the entire piece feels like some long lost 1970s Musical Theater production number rescued from the cutting room floor. "Summer Babe" delivers the right optimistic mood, complete with deliciously tormented tenor solo. "My First Mine" an early B-Side with a bouncy Fall-like riff hardly sounds like the original at all. Re-imagined as Dixieland, so distant from its source as to be a new composition altogether, it is enriched with strong rhythmic interplay, making the piece as singular as any on the album.

Numerous Pavement tunes embody a quirky sensibility more akin to jazz harmony and melody than typical pop song structure, and these cuts are the strongest on the album. "Blue Hawaiian," with its odd meter and phrasing, works perfectly with the quartet's winding improvisation. Featuring shimmery Fender Rhodes lines and Carter's velvety to eviscerating tenor, the piece expands like an early fusion experiment, all space and dark ambience. "Platform Blues", from Pavement's final album, originally an Allman Brothers like jam, lends itself perfectly to the group's bluesy vamping. Carter tears it up on tenor while Jackson drops press rolls left and right around him with the rest of the group flailing in spurts. Indicative of the best of both worlds, "Platform Blues" retains both the structure of the original piece while inverting the form enough to make it valid as a jazz vehicle.

Ones appreciation of this material is going to be dependent on their relationship with both Pavement and the assembled musicians. Conservative fans of either stripe will likely cry foul (unless of course, someone tells them to like it). This is unfortunate, as the quartet has done a stellar job at re-contextualizing familiar songs that have become the classic rock of an entire generation.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best configuration yet for James Carter 15 Oct 2005
By Jan P. Dennis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The man is prodigally talented. No one who has heard him live or on record disputes that.

Few also dispute that his talent often fails to find congenial settings to adequately, properly, display his gifts.

Well, I think he's found his proper setting. After his last recording, Out of Nowhere, featuring his Organ Trio, I vowed I would never purchase another Carter disc, so upset was I with his histrionics, grandstanding, and pyrotechnics. But, weak-willed human that I am, I blew off my vow and snatched up this disc.

And I'm really glad I did.

What makes this outing different than the others? First, he's playing with his peers. Cyrus Chestnut (piano and keys), Ali Jackson (drums and percussion), and Reginald Veal (bass) are his musical equals. This isn't late-career Sonny hitting softballs out of the park served up to him by his son-in-law on trombone and Bob Cranshaw on electric bass.

No.

This is first-class musicians, musical equals or superiors, interacting, dialoging, bad-assing and coming up with something both accessible and mind-expanding.

They're playing the Pavement songbook.

Okay.

So what if I don't know Pavement from Adam? There're plenty of attractive song vehicles to cavort about and improvise on. And it strikes me that there's also a vibe of apropos ephemerality that enables all involved not to take themselves too seriously even as they have a boatload of fun.

Second, not only is everyone having lots of fun, they're creating music of substance, of consequence.

And, amazingly, without pretension.

Really, I'd given up all hope that this would EVER happen--that James Carter would record a disc as attractive, substantial, hip, and approachable as this one so obviously is.

Personally, I'm thrilled. I hated to be grousing about a guy so obviously gifted, yet one, also, so obviously improperly recorded.

So let's just rejoice: at the ascent of a brilliant musician who's finally found his MO; at the coming together of an all-star band that succeeds beyond one's wildest expectations; at a left-field concept that, odd as it is, nevertheless, almost magically, stumbles on the ideal setting to showcase the ridiculous talents of a man who, not improbably, is described in the liner notes as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Albert Ayler rolled into one.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous CD - and even better live 4 Dec 2005
By Alan Heaton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I'm afraid that I don't have the musical acumen that would allow me to adequately review this album complete with sophisticated musicalese terms as others have already done. I'll give you my quick, fresh assessment, while the memory of seeing the band play live last night at the Iridium in New York City is still happily bouncing around in my mind.

My wife and I have been big fans of Cyrus Chestnutt for some time, so when we learned that a business trip would bring us to NYC this weekend, we got tickets to see "Gold Sounds" live at the Iridium. We also bought the CD beforehand, and compared the "Gold Sounds" versions with the Pavement originals.

To make a long story short, "Gold Sounds" is wonderful, and seeing the band live helps to understand why.

I hadn't seen James Carter before, but the dude is the coolest sax-man I've perhaps ever seen. He can play any instrument, and make notes come out of whatever he's playing like nothing you've ever heard. Plus, he is as cool as dry ice in a deep freeze - if he doesn't become a superstar of jazz, I'll be shocked.

Based on the CDs we own, I was worried that Cyrus wasn't going to rock out - my mistake. He deftly worked "Smoke On The Water" riffs into his solo "Trigger Cut", which was fantastic, and he really helped drive the forcefulness of the live show (as he does on the CD).

Reginald Veal was a revelation on bass. Live, he played electric much of the time, and he carried many of the tunes, and sung nicely (as he does on the CD) during "Cut Your Hair".

Drummer Ali Jackson was also great - everyone else in the band is so good that you might be tempted to overlook him, but you shouldn't. Listen to the CD - his percussion is unconventional in spots, but as you'll see (hear?) it's just what every track needed.

Hearing the CD after seeing the band live is amazing - the CD makes even more sense now, but even if you don't get to see this band do these tunes live, you will love the CD.

I've seen a ton of jazz concerts during the past decade, but last night's show was perhaps the best one I've ever seen. It's so rare to capture four talented jazz musicians all contributing equally with such success - buy this CD! You won't be disappointed. And, if you can, see this live! It kills.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe the hype 29 Oct 2005
By Felicity Writeswell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is one of the purest musical albums of the year. The playing is superb, as you'd expect with this lineup, the song selection is top notch, as you'd expect from Pavement, but there is something more too. Stereo starts things off with a funky head followed by a melodic sax on the verse. From there the band goes abstract, but always stays in contact with the melody before a rousing finish.

My First Mine is a spirited be-bop workout which changes tempo and converts to a samba beat, with Carter blowing like a wild man near the end.

Cut Your Hair starts out as a bluesy slow-down of one of Malkmus' most indelible melodies, but speeds up for a jokey, but still heartfelt and soulful vocal finish.

Summer Babe keeps the fun going with Veal's innovative bass-work while Carter hammers the melody home with brio.

Blue Hawaiian is where you know the album will be more than just a light-hearted-though-well-played romp. Although I have heard Cyrus Chestnut before and always knew he was a great piano player, I never knew he could add these kinds of shadings and dimensions on electric keyboard. Carter follows his lead and keeps this one introspective and layered.

Next up is Here, which is either the most heartbreakingly beautiful jazz ballad in some time or the tune where Carter achieves on soprano what he has been doing for years on baritone. Play this one late at night, with the lights dimmed, and try not to get choked up.

Platform Blues is the key track to the whole album. The band is never more cohesive than on this one, which is the most rock-and-roll feeling track on the record even though its textures are straight jazz. Carter's deep horn at the end fades into a series of whale sounds unlike anything I have ever heard. Deep, rich stuff.

Finally, Chestnut's solo piano Trigger Cut ends the record with poignancy and humor, perfectly putting a cap on the record. I have not enjoyed another record more this year and I keep playing it over and over.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A concept album that really works 22 Nov 2005
By Gaylen Halbert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
No band name. Gold Sounds is album title. All four musicians are outstanding. Effective use of a rock source [Pavement] to produce really great jazz. I will be playing this cd many times. A keeper.
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