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KENT CARTER double bass

1 - MARCH 17 (by KC) - 15:17
2 - BLITHE - 5:22
3 - EIGENS FUR EIDENS (by AM) - 12:40
4 - INTENTIONS #1 (by KC) - 3:22
5 - EXUBERANCE - 10:43
6 - PULAPKA (by KM) - 6:06
7 - WHO MIGHT THAT BE? - 3:08
8 - BLUES SUITE (by KC) - 8:58
9 - IN THE MEAN TIME - 2:46

Digital concert recordings by Kent Carter
7 & 9: KŲln (Friedenskirche) - 2004 January
1: Sers [near AngoulÍme] (l'Eglise de Sers) - 2004 August
2-6 & 8: Bonn (Alte Kirche, Bonn-Kessenich) - 2005 June
Total time 69:00

All previously unissued


Excerpts from sleeve notes:

Entering into the music of the Kent Carter String Trio can be an unsettling experience. One has the feeling that fiction and reality have conspired to ensnare us in their own magic web. We arrive, curious and confident, ready to listen to the music that a famous American double bass player Kent Carter, a prominent exponent of contemporary jazz, has written for a string trio, a traditional line-up in European chamber music. And this is such music, even though in this case the double bass has replaced the 'cello to create, almost imperceptibly, an unusual atmosphere.

The thing that surprises us most is that everything comes together as if by a sort of miracle, even though we know clearly that no miracle was involved. What we hear here is above all one dominant musical concept which can be situated at the confluence of two streams of musical history. One is that of European chamber music, whose harmonic and melodic inventions very early on influenced the writing of jazz that was already 'scholarly'. The other is jazz, from which European music borrowed valuable elements to enrich its rhythms, widen its instrumental techniques, and to develop the spontaneity and expressivity of its interpreters.

But Kent Carter's project does not operate a sort of fusion like Third Stream, which has been evolving since the emergence of ragtime. He is more concerned with the playful dialectic between formal writing and improvisation. Kaleidoscopic constructions reveal similarities, reinforce contrasts and create ruptures. These draw their logic from an intensive study of sound and of different ways of producing sounds. Thus we find the current preoccupations with 'extended techniques' and the nomenclature of these many new effects discovered by musicians exploring the possibilities of their instruments: pizzicato, slapping, popping, spiccato or col arco with the hair or the back of the bow, sul tasto or sul ponticello, glissando or staccato, legato, martellato or saltellato, open strings, double stopping and flageolet effects, amidst others which remain to be given a name. Everything is possible!

This is not an egotistical exercise to demonstrate virtuosity, but comes from the necessity to integrate the sound material with the structure of the music. All of this requires virtuoso players in order to blend the flow of the music with the techniques which produce it. In this context, it is undeniable that Katrin Mickiewicz and Albert Maurer have proved their incredible mastery of the viola and violin respectively.

Any music-lover wandering in the vast forest of strings, and not going round in circles, must one day arrive at one of the intersections where Kent Carter awaits them. In their turn they will be able to experience the pleasure of being transported into a universe that's almost familiar, unless they discover an unknown universe where they feel at home.

translated by Charles Fox with additional work by Caroline Kraabel and Martin Davidson


Excerpts from reviews:

"The new string trio disc is absolutely amazing. I had very high expectations for this, as I had voted the last one in my top ten in 2003 or whenever it came out. And the Maurer / Carter duets has been one of my favorite recordings since the first day I heard it. But this new one is absolutely skullsmashingly beautiful. I've been listening to it on repeat now for four hours straight and just can't believe how great it is."

ANDREW CHOATE - private email 2006

"Legendary bassist Kent Carter's broad musicality is about much more than simply dabbling within fleeting interests, as evident on this quasi-chamber jazz session. Whether performing within free jazz circles or the modern mainstream, Carter is often an intense stylist. On this string trio endeavour, the bassist serves as the anchor while enjoying ample breathing room among his bandmates' zigzagging staccato lines.

Cerebral in scope yet sometimes fragile with intent, the band pursues daintily melodic chamber frameworks while also generating a number of unexpected surprises. On Intentions #1, the artists deliver inwardly moving choruses offset by verbose exchanges, and the strings introduce scraping based tonalities where whimsy and angst share common ground. During this evolving state of musical affairs, the trio communicates strength and passion through mood-altering pastiches of sound. During selected movements, they create a gnomic existence while also inducing trance-like states via circular unison lines. The various plots are ingrained within sonorous interchanges and ominous undercurrents.

On Who Might That Be? the trio develops a walking motif, accentuated by violinist Albrecht Maurer's nimble plucking manoeuvres. Ultimately, the art of improvisation maintains equilibrium with the compositional element. Therefore, the music is not overbearing or steeped within directionless flows. Contrarily, the instrumentalists align technical proficiency with intersecting storylines that bespeak uniformity and an entrancing degree of flux. Repeated listens tend to divulge newfound surprises here. "


"The Kent Carter String Trio shines through nine sensitive pieces (three written by Carter, one each by Maurer and Mickiewicz and four collective ones). Understanding what's scored and what's instead improvised is quite difficult, as everything sounds extremely arranged even in the most indescribable sections. There are lots of directions one can look to, minimalism and a sort of 'modern baroque' being a couple of them; yet, the elegant eloquence of these tracks sets a very high standard, which is all the more appreciated given the absolute lack of pretentiousness and pomp characterizing the playing. Delicately melancholic themes and Reichian tapestries enrapture through their sheer exquisiteness; dissonant pluralities and almost sorrowful counterpoints ask for some space in the silence of apparently wasted autumnal afternooons. Carter, Maurer and Mickiewicz are linked by an invisible thread which gives their music its coherence, making them sound always conscious of what happens to the others despite the fact that they're completely absorbed by the very same incantations they create. INTERSECTIONS is a splendid album, one that instantly captures your attention yoking it to the seductive power of its adamant beauty. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of 2006's best releases and comes very highly recommended."


"This is chamber music of a high order, whose eloquent but understated beauty sinks in deeper with every listen. Compositions like "Blues Suite and Pulapka suggest a hybrid between jazz and Renaissance and Baroque dance-forms, while the fully-improvised tracks have a Bartokian or Stravinskian flavour. Carter, violinist Albrecht Maurer and violist Katrin Mickiewicz fit together hand-in-glove, to the point where the group's intuitive, moment-to-moment interplay obliterates distinctions between improvisation and composition. One of the most sheerly enjoyable releases of 2006. "


"I found INTERSECTIONS to be exquisite. And while the liners are a bit too flowery for my tastes, they nonetheless seem to do a marvellous job of pointing out the varied and refined impulses behind the sound. Having listened to the CD before reading them, I was, I must admit, a bit tickled to see references to renaissance and baroque musics, because I clearly heard them as well. I also thought of contemporary classical composers whose aesthetic might be viewed as conservative, but whose work still displayed a clear sense of far reaching introspective invention. (Lutoslawski and Samuel Barber at his most risk-taking came immediately to mind.) I was also struck by what a clear language Kent has developed, as the linkage to work from several decades ago is readily apparent; a language that is can be clearly heard in the spontaneously generated pieces as much as the compositions(!). Aspects of his language seem to include a penchant for subtle extended techniques, including microtonal colorations, as well as an uncanny ability to create works with what appear to be disparate sections, which, ultimately, blend together seamlessly with a logic all their own. The only (and VERY slight) criticism I could make is that some of the solo work is overly beholding to 'classical' figures (akin to a bebopper/mainstreamer running the scales, or a free jazzer running the squeals), but, to reiterate that's a minor quibble."

MILO FINE - private email 2006

"Intersections is delightful in every way.The long opening March 17 is a composed piece with a light folkish quality reminiscent of Jánaček, or perhaps Delius in his American mode. Some episodes call for unconventional articulations: scraped harmonics, jazzy strums on the bass. A Blithe improvisation follows and immediately reveals how close the Trio's written and improvised languages actually are. Maurer's Eigens for Eidens is another substantial composition, and Mickiewicz also contributes the mournful Pupalka, but the remainder is divided between further Carter compositions and three more improvs, of which Exuberance is the major statement. Some will find the instrumentation insufficiently 'jazz' (even when deployed in a Blues Suite), but it's hard to find fault with music as finely executed as this."

RICHARD COOK & BRIAN MORTON - The Penguin Guide to JAZZ RECORDINGS, 9th edition 2008


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