Live in Studio A: Detroit’s Own James Carter Honors a Late Great Jazz Legend

Ryan Patrick Hooper

James Carter at WDET’s studios on Cass Avenue in Detroit. PICTURED ABOVE: A young James Carter (second from the right; second row) on tour in Europe with Lester Bowie’s New York Organ Ensemble and the Art Ensemble of Chicago in 1993.

Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation. CultureShift airs weekdays 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit public radio.

On Friday night at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, saxophonist James Carter will perform a tribute to jazz legend John Coltrane. It’s a living legend honoring a late legend.

Carter originally hails from Detroit. He turned 50-years-old this year, releasing his first album back in 1994. He’s considered among critics to be one of the greatest jazz artists performing today.

When Carter arrived at WDET to perform and talk about his upcoming performance honoring Coltrane, there was big news in the jazz world that he couldn’t ignore.

One of his idols—saxophonist Joseph Jarman—had passed away at the age of 81 on Wednesday, January 9th.

Jarman was a giant in the jazz world. He arrived in the 1960s as a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago—an experimental, avant-garde jazz group that expanded the boundaries of what jazz could be.

When James Carter was still making a name for himself, he had the opportunity to tour Europe with Jarman and the Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEC).

And that journey got started right here in Detroit when Carter first heard their music on WDET.

Carter says Jarman was one of the saxophonists whose style came to define “contemporary black music.”

I had the pleasure of not only meeting (Jarman and members of the AEC) when I was young back in 1984, but later on in 1993 I was able to tour with them,” Carter says. “We did a grand tour of Europe. It was called the Chicago Blues Tradition Project.”

For Carter, the chance to work so closely with his mentors changed his trajectory as a musician forever.

To see two saxophonists basically breathe as one, but totally have different personas…set the tone for how I was going to blend, or not blend, with other individuals. Create dissonance and then eventually create harmonies.”

Info and tickets to Carter’s DSO performance are available, here. 

Click on the audio player above to hear saxophonist James Carter pay tribute to one his mentors, the late Joseph Jarman. 

Image credit: Courtesy of James Carter

Aired on: CultureShift
About the Author

Ryan Patrick Hooper

Host, CultureShift

Ryan Patrick Hooper has worked as an arts and culture journalist in Detroit for over a decade.   Follow @hoopingtonpost

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