|What This Is
by David Fujino November 2006
With the exception of "Pat 'N' Chat" (Hank Mobley), and a John Coltrane version of "But Not For Me" (George & Ira Gershwin), saxophonist Paul Carr's new recording celebrates tunes by composers from his Washington DC area.
Carr has assembled two different sets of rhythm sections for this recording pianists Andrew Adair and Bob Butts; bassists Gavin Fallow and Mike Bowie; and Steve Williams and Harold Sumney, drums. They all hit the mark, and they communicate well with the tenor-trumpet front line of Paul Carr and Terell Stafford.
"Just Noodlin'" (Paul Carr) expresses Carr's overall fondness for the hard bop/modal style of classic Prestige recordings. Carr's tenor speaks in the urgent spirit of Coltrane. Trumpeter Terell Stafford's spinning upper register work is truly edgy and stirring, while pianist Andrew Adair establishes a trance-like state with tolling chords. The bass playing of Gavin Fallow is so clear-headed (he's also recorded a bit too high in the mix); and drummer Steve Williams is a tasteful team player.
There's a variety of moods and colours in this recording: The straightforward Gospel tones of "If I Can Help Somebody". The Coltrane-styled vision-questing tunes like "But Not for Me", "Blue and Brown", and "Just Noodlin'". A sweet Brazilian-flavoured interpretation of "Alfie" (it's very different from the Sonny Rollins version). And there's "Dixie Pig", with its refreshing touches of free bop dialogue between Carr's soprano sax and Stafford's trumpet.
Paul Carr is a modern mainstream player and composer with an eclectic approach to programming a CD, but he clearly loves groove-based and bluesy tunes, and is happiest, it seems, when swinging in 4/4.
Paul Carr plays the tradition with confidence.
And this is good to hear.