Between releasing his debut CD, starting a record label, composing pieces for various large ensembles, and touring with the great pianist Kenny Barron, Bryan Carter, is making his voice heard, all before he’s even old enough to have a drink to relieve the stress. But is he able to cope with these various pressures as he enters his senior year at Juilliard? After hearing Enchantment, it sounds like he’ll be just fine.
BY KRIS BOWERS
“I chose to call the CD Enchantment because it emerged in a new place and developed during a period of transition. Moving to New York City, being influenced by all the music, culture, the sounds, the smells, the pace…it was all so novel to me that I felt I’d been ‘enchanted’ the way Alice was after she fell into the rabbit hole in Alice In Wonderland. This city is constantly re-inventing itself. It’s the only place on earth where that happens and it’s magical.”
On the second and title track of the album, Philip Kuehn (bass) takes charge instantly, delivering a driving bass line that seeps into your eardrums and urges you to move. You give in to the “head bob,” and it all comes so naturally that it takes a moment to realize that the piece starts in an odd time signature. As the song meanders through different sections and various metric modulations, Bryan’s compositional skills beautifully tie together all of the pieces, creating an aural journey that continuously clutches your attention.
Using this album to express himself both as a player and as a composer, Bryan decided to deny convention and showcase all original music. Although many young jazz artists play a few standards on their first album to give the listener something familiar to latch onto, Enchantment keeps you intrigued solely with the emotion and feeling each song conveys. With six of his own compositions, and one by each Philip Kuehn and Matt Jodrell (trumpet), the album is put together very well.
With “Linda’s Call” and “Jeremy’s Lullaby”, Bryan pays homage to his mother and late older brother – who passed away two months before the CD was recorded – respectively. As the rhythm section vamps on the intro to “Linda’s Call”, Donald Vega (piano) fills the space with lush voicings and cascading lines, which he continues to do throughout the melody. While Matt delivers the main theme with a beautiful tone, Jeremy Viner (tenor sax) hovers in the background, providing ghost-like color notes that round out the sound of the song nicely.
For “Jeremy’s Lullaby”, Bryan decided to break down the ensemble to just a trio, creating a sense of vulnerability. Donald Vega begins the piece with a tender introduction, clearly states the gorgeous yet simple melody, and continues with a tasteful solo, more than capable of standing as melody on its own.
It’s simple, Bryan Carter assembled a powerhouse band for this coming out party, and composed incredible music as their vehicle for expression. There’s no doubt that this kid’s career will continue to flourish, and, in less than a month, you can finally buy him a drink to say congrats.
Last night, 14-year-old girls around the world tweeted, texted, and status-updated in disbelief after their heartthrob, Justin Bieber discovered that he will have to say he’s “never” won a GRAMMY for Best New Artist. All of this during, before and/or after Googling, Esperanza Spalding.
Honestly, the only thing I’m shocked and appalled about, is the amount of people that are shocked and appalled. The category is called, Best New Artist, and having your song played on repeat (maybe a bit too much) on the radio, shouldn’t be the barometer for measuring an artist’s talent level; and especially not for one of the highest respected awards that is supposed to recognize this talent. The bottom line is that the GRAMMYs isn’t a popularity contest, and last night proved it. Remember, this isn’t the People’s Choice Awards.
One shouldn’t even need to be a musician or music critic to realize the difference between Esperanza’s incredible and raw talent versus many of the studio produced artists out there in today’s music industry. That isn’t to say that the other artists weren’t also very deserving of this recognition. As a matter fact, for someone like Drake, shouldn’t he have been recognized as the Best New Artist, when he became the second artist in history to have his first two top 10 hits in the same week, before being signed? That was back in 2009. So yes, the method of the GRAMMYs does make me scratch my head at times, but I in no way believe last night’s choice was a mistake. Look, he’s a talented kid, but having his career shaped by a pop icon, his debut album going platinum, and a biopic done on his “struggle” to the top; I think “Biebs” has had enough premature recognition for one year.
And if you haven’t checked out Esperanza by now, do yourself a favor (Oh, and did I mention that she’s a Berklee Graduate!):
breal & boriginal,