Week #4: James Carter/Cyrus Chestnut/Reginald Veal/Ali Jackson: “Gold Sounds”

James Carter/Cyrus Chestnut/Reginald Veal/Ali Jackson: “Gold Sounds” Gold Sounds

 Original version from Pavement’s “Brighten the Corners”
Obviously, Jazz interpretations of popular songs are as old as the genre itself. As far as the 90’s are concerned, I believe Herbie Hancock was the first major jazz artist to take a stab at it when he recorded Nirvana’s “All Apologies.” Personally, I found Herbie’s interpretation to be somewhat flat and conservative. Sometime later, I overheard John Scofield say that Herbie didn’t even know who Nirvana was at the time, so that probably explains it. As the 90’s wore on, major label jazz albums became increasingly gimmick orientated and unadventurous. It seemed like every artist was forced to put out tribute records or feature a popular musician on one or two tracks. In the midst of all this debris, one album that stood out to me was James Carter’s “Conversin’ with the Elders.” Here, Carter paid tribute to the usual suspects: Bird, Lester Young, and Monk. However, along the way he snuck in an obscure composition by experimental improviser, Anthony Braxton. My opinions on Braxton are fairly complex but what caught my attention was the fact that Carter chose to pay tribute to someone so divisive. I would later learn that Carter’s broad-mindedness is actually empirically identifiable in the execution of his sound. For example, one can objectively identify the influences of both Ben Webster and Rahsaan Roland Kirk in his tone. Suffice to say, I have been a fan of Carter’s for some time. I stumbled on “Gold Sounds” a few years ago during a lengthily James Carter Youtube viewing session, which included his amazing “cutting” session with Joshua Redman. One thing the reader should know from the get go is that Pavement is easily one of my favorite bands of all time. Despite Lead Singer Stephen Malkmus’s insistence that he couldn’t sing in-tune or play guitar very well, I don’t think Pavement has put out a single album that is anything less than brilliant. Incidentally, I also think that Malkmus is one of the greatest lyricists of his generation. Of course, I also think that the performances on this record are remarkable but I don’t want to add to any preconceived notions one might already have about it. It’s entirely conceivable that someone who isn’t a Pavement fan might find the collection to be somewhat mundane. I’ve posted two clips above in order for the listener to get a sense of how Pavement’s music is converted to an improvisational medium. By the way, I recently learned that James Carter said he first encountered Pavement’s music while watching an episode of “Beavis and Butthead.” Isn’t that enough to at least garner a little bit of interest in this record?-Tone Track Listing: • Stereo • My First Mine • Cut Your Hair • Summer Babe • Blue Hawaiian • Here • Platform Blues • Trigger Cut Personnel: • James Carter: Tenor and Soprano Saxophones • Cyrus Chestnut: Fender Rhodes, piano, Hammond organ; • Reginald Veal: Acoustic and Electric Bass, Voice; • Ali Jackson: Drums, Voice. Label: Brown Brothers Recordings Year: 2005


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