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Gold Sounds

Jazz musicians have a long history of taking different genres of music and making them their own. "Gold Sounds," a new record of jazz interpretations of work by indie rock artists Pavement, is just another example of the versatility, virtuosity and imagination of jazz artists. This quartet certainly has no problem putting their stamp on a genre of music that has barely been tapped by jazz musicians. Although not uncharted territory, this is prime example of the fruitful material available for exploration.

In support of the new release, the group had a week long engagement at the Iridium. The four-song set was well received and inspirational. James Carter started off the night with a saxophone introduction and went into material from Pavement’s last recording effort. After a nasty vamp and some premium bass runs, Ali Jackson was featured on the drums. Closing out the number as it had begun was the sweet sax of Carter, quietly, gently drifting out.

Cyrus Chestnut opened "5-4 = Unity," Pavement’s tribute to Brubeck’s "Take Five." The pianist was featured on a powerful solo and supported by Jackson’s dynamic drumming. Reginald Veal switched from electric to acoustic bass in the middle of the song. After displaying creativity with the bow, the bassist stepped back as Carter and Chestnut traded runs that stepped out into a freer interpretation of this jazz standard. Veal then reasserted himself as the number segued into a deep funk feel.

Pavement’s "Date with Ikea" found Chestnut on the Fender Rhodes. This unique sound changed the feel of the quartet. Carter’s tenor solo featured riffs that sounded like they were coming out of an electric guitar. Veal added some nice bass runs underneath Carter’s solo. Chestnut’s sparkling solo on the Rhodes was followed by Veal’s bass solo, which was the first time I ever heard a slide used on a bass guitar. He moved from the upper frets to the middle register. Moans from the saxophone were exchanged with Veal’s playing and vocal scatting.

The final selection had a nice opening melody, played by Carter on the soprano. Quickly changing it up, Carter was honking, squealing until his saxophone sounded like a stringed instrument, mostly like a bass. The heavy drumming added to the bluesy, soulful sound, no doubt accentuated by Chestnut’s work on the Hammond B-3. Again, Veal started into scatting during his solo. Chestnut then moved to the Fender Rhodes for his solo. All of this came together with a high-energy ending.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: James Carter
  • Concert Date: 12/1/2005
  • Subtitle: Music of Pavement
  • Venue: Iridium
  • City State Country: New York, New York, USA
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