REVIEW: Daniel Carter with Thurston Moore, John Edwards, Steve Noble at Cafe Oto

Daniel Carter chatting by the stage before the concert
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2015. All Rights Reserved

Daniel Carter with Thurston Moore, John Edwards, Steve Noble
(Cafe Oto; day 2 of two-day residency at Cafe Oto, 7 April 2015; review and drawings by Geoff Winston)

This rare UK appearance by New York-based Daniel Carter, low-key sax master and one-time street musician, offered fresh perspectives to key routes carved out by the pioneers of the 60s. Carter's alto phrasing owed a great deal to Coltrane's setting down of the markers in the 60s, yet the roaring intensity of his quartet with Steve Noble, John Edwards and Thurston Moore, looked unmistakably in the direction of Ayler's groups, which, of course, led back to what was to become the equally ground-breaking, late period Coltrane.

This is not to take away anything of the clarity and brilliance of Carter's mature, individual voice and his technical command, primarily on alto sax, but also for extended passages on piano.

Throughout two intense sets Carter's strengths as leader shone through, as he remained the main focus of the quartet's relentless, high-energy peregrinations. Maintaining impressive composure within the onslaught generated by the power station support of his London-based collaborators, Carter's lyricism and single-minded articulation led the way through a demanding combination of unique, improvised material and repertoire from that pivotal 60s period, including a quote from Coltrane's Meditations.

Noble, Edwards and Moore took on the role of perfectly attuned accompanists with sensitivity, weaving a chain of jazz-noise as a compulsive, percussive backdrop to Carter's deeply ingrained fluency. Occasional foregrounding took over as Carter allowed the trio to expand. Moore's intense strumming and knawing reverb merged with Edwards' grittily distorted bass bowing and elastic attack, while Noble flipped from multi-tonal polyrhythmic to atmospheric while keeping the rolling momentum at a peak.


Daniel Carter tinkling the ivories at Cafe Oto
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2015. All Rights Reserved

Not that there weren't softer, meditative episodes to introduce lighter, spiritual tones to the conversation, with Moore heading in to Delia Derbyshire special effects zones and Noble mixing the ringing metallic with taut scratches and taps. All blown when Edward's string snapped under the ferocity of the bass player's attentions - which he just adopted as another string to his bow - while Carter's intermittent vocal chants and his dynamic pianistic pyrotechnics added range to his beautifully crafted statements on alto.

This timely and memorable performance, bursting with vitality and imagination, can only enhance and help to establish Carter's profile more strongly on this side of the Atlantic.

Daniel Carter - alto sax, piano, vocals
John Edwards - double bass
Thurston Moore - electric guitar
Steve Noble - drums, percussion

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for a typically insightful review. I'm pleased to hear Carter was so powerful.
    I'd avoided the concert only because of Moore's presence (despite being a fan of his solo and SY work). At last year's LJF his performance with Butcher, Noble and Edwards was embarrassing in its lack of any real interaction with such great improvisors. He seemed content to simply play his trademark guitar and not bother or respond to what others were doing around him. A sorry waste of an opportunity.
    This review suggests he may now be a little less egotistical in his approach to improvising which is encouraging indeed.

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