Given the plaudits that saxophone powerhouse James Carter has garnered for his role in propelling jazz into the future over the past two decades, it is surprising that he is only 39 years old, and fuels his contemporary spin on jazz with a deep respect for and an intimate knowledge of the tradition. His Emarcy debut, Present Tense, is a 10-pack of animated tunes that range from jazz standards given new rhythmic traction to three originals, including the sunny, Brazilian-tinted “Bossa J. C.” Carter enlisted a top-drawer support group for the recording, including the core quartet of trumpeter Dwight Adams, pianist D. D. Jackson, bassist James Genus, and drummer Victor Lewis, with guest appearances by guitarist Rodney Jones and percussionist Eli Fountain.
Carter launched his solo career with two superb DIW/Columbia albums. Recorded in 1993 and 1994, respectively, JC on the Set and Jurassic Classics were initially released in Japan and then issued in the US. Both were huge successes, and Carter was soon dubbed the “Motor City Madman,” based on his distinctive and oftentimes thrilling style.
Winner of several DownBeat critics and readers polls, Carter continues to tour with his organ trio and often substitutes in the World Saxophone Quartet. Carter recorded his trio in 2005 for the Half Note release Out of Nowhere, and in 2006 recorded Gold Sounds (Brown Brothers Recordings) with pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Reginald Veal, and drummer Ali Jackson in a collaborative outing of songs by the pop band Pavement.