Here’s one of the cleanest, controlled and soulfully smooth albums you’ve heard in a while from an artist with whom I’ve just become acquainted, and happily so. Duane Carter is a creative and accomplished trumpeter hailing from the City of Angels. He comes with a lot of formal education and training, but what captured me most is that which emanates from his soul. Never Say Never is a great commentary on what lies beneath the surface of this artist.
The opening track lays some pretty solid groundwork for what you can expect, as it kicks off with lots of melody, rhythm and a very decent hook. It’s followed by more of the same in "Come Follow Me," with saxophonist Gary Bias in a starring role. The exotic Latin flavor of track three "Estrelas Pretas (Black Stars)" is certainly palatable and fresh. You get a touch of narrative and some graceful overdubbing of Carter’s trumpet and vocalist Lauren Kahn's backing vocals in the quiet, tastefully lazy and obviously fun "Southern Cali Summer." The bouncy title cut brings back the up-tempo slice of this album. It too carries a really cool hook, along with the irresistible urge to hop onto the dance floor. There are several others here that bear noting, including the cleverly phrased "Saint-Hood" with Gary Bias and Carter producing some very sweet and funky harmonies. Then, there’s the hot, hot, hot pepper "Playa Amador." If this one doesn’t make you want to salsa, check your pulse, my friend!
Carter likes to fancy himself as an artist who plays with "edgy" jazz, mixing and meshing subgenres and flavors. This self-description is quite accurate, though I’d prefer to dub it as generously eclectic. Whatever term one chooses, Never Say Never contains good quality stuff with an abundance of class and style.