John Carter

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John Carter
Echoes from Rudolph's
NoBusiness Records
2CD
$17

"Echoes from Rudolph's has topped my list of Albums Most in Need of Reissuing for the longest time. Not only is it one of clarinetist-composer John Carter's greatest performances on record, it is also the only documentation of a critical period in the evolution of his art. It is the only album he made as a leader or co-leader between Secrets in 1972 and Variations in 1979. And it comes from the period in which he decided to discard his other horns and to focus exclusively on the clarinet.

"Every Sunday afternoon for two and a half years, between 1973 and 1976, the John Carter Trio made Rudolph's Fine Art Center their home. A former dentist's office located at 3320 West 50th Street in South Central Los Angeles, Rudolph's had a raised stage at one end of the room. To the right was the green room, to the left was a door to individual rooms and a bath. In between was a little table for wine and cheese. Capacity was about 30, but there were usually fewer people than that in attendance. In this intimate setting, accompanied by his son Stanley on bass and longtime collaborator William Jeffrey on drums, Carter developed his art and grew to realize that the clarinet was his instrument of destiny.

"As 'Amin' shows, Carter was an original voice on soprano sax. In fact there was another tune for soprano saxophone recorded for the album, 'Blues for Ruby Pearl,' but it was never released. At the last minute, Carter replaced it with 'Angles,' a solo clarinet piece. As good as he was on soprano, it was on clarinet that Carter truly takes wing and soars. The new solo track signaled his transition exclusively to the instrument.

"Carter released Echoes from Rudolph's in late October or early November 1977 in an edition of only 550 copies on his own Ibedon label. 'I be done' is a Black southern idiom common during John's Texas childhood. Cornetist Bobby Bradford gives an example of its usage: 'I be done go upside yo' haid.' For Carter, the name not only connects to his Fort Worth roots, it also sounds suggestive of Africa.

"The second disc of this set contains a rare broadcast recording by the trio. After Rudolph's closed, the group was invited to perform on the Goodbye Porkpie Hat program on KPFK. Recorded in March 1977, just months before Carter added the solo clarinet track to the LP, it is very likely the last recording of Carter on soprano sax.

"With most of his earliest recorded work with Bobby Bradford now back in print, Carter's revolutionary achievements as an instrumentalist and composer can be reassessed and better appreciated. These trio sessions capture Carter at the very birth of his mature period, when clarinet became his sole instrument. In a sense, Echoes from Rudolph's is the missing link between the New Art Jazz Ensemble of the late '60s/early '70s and his compositional masterpiece, Roots and Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music, released on five albums throughout the 198os and one of the great triumphs of that decade" - Ed Hazell

Hear clips of To a Fallen Poppy and Amin

John Carter: clarinet, soprano saxophone
Stanley Carter: bass
William Jeffrey: drums, percussion
Chris Carter: cymbal (CD 1, track 2)
Melba Joyce: vocals (CD 1, track 2)