The Record Collection

John Carter: Roots and Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music (1982-89)

Roots and Folklore -notes (pdf 44.3KB)

John Carter -notes (20.7KB)

*****
#1: Dauwhe (1982)

Black Saint BSR 0057

Track list:

01 – Dauwhe
02 – Ode To The Flower Maiden
03 – Enter From The East
04 – Soft Dance
05 – The Mating Ritual

Personnel:

John Carter – clarinet
Bobby Bradford – cornet
Red Challender – tuba
James Newton – flute, bass flute
Charles Owens – soprano sax, oboe, clarinet
Roberto Miranda – double bass
William Jeffrey – drums
Luis Peralta – waterphone, percussion

Recorded and mixed at “The Music Lab”, Los Angeles; February 25, 28 and March 8, 1982

Engineer: Dennis Moody

All compositions by John Carter

*****
John Carter’s masterwork, the five-volume Roots and Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music, traces the evolution of contemporary urban music through the history of African-Americans and the legacy of slavery.

Carter names Dauwhe, the title track of the first volume, for an ancient African goddess of happiness; the dedication is loving, but the music rings ominous.

The ensemble blends are striking with the purr of bowed bass and tuba; and clash of cornet and flute not to mention the eerie ambience of Peralta`s scraped waterphone, and the leader’s shrieking clarinet.

Miranda and Jeffery hurtle along with a free-bop swing that suggests the influence of Ornette Coleman, Carter`s childhood friend in Fort Worth.
—Joe Petrucelli

*****
*****
#2: Castles of Ghana (1985)

Gramavision 79423

Track list:

01 – Castles Of Ghana
02 – Evening Prayer
03 – Conversation
04 – The Fallen Prince
05 – Theme Of Desperation
06 – Capture
07 – Postlude

Personnel:

John Carter – clarinet, vocals
Marty Ehrlich – bass clarinet, percussion, bells, gong
Bobby Bradford – cornet
Benny Powell – trombone
Baikida Carroll – trumpet, vocals
Richard Davis – acoustic bass
Andrew Cyrille – drums, percussion
Terry Jenoure – violin, viola, vocals

Recorded at Eras Studio New York; November 1985

Music composed by John Carter and commissioned by the New York Shakespeare Festival

*****
The second of clarinetist John Carter’s five part of the history of Africa Americans deals with the capture of many Africans for shipment as slaves to the New World.

Carter’s Octet on this date features such fine players as bass clarinetist Marty Ehrlich, cornetist Bobby Bradford, trombonist Benny Powell and trumpeter Baikida Carroll, and the music is as dramatic as the episodes it portrays.
—Scott Yanow

*****
*****
#3: Dance of the Love Ghosts (1986)

Gramavision 79424

Track list:

01 – Dance Of The Love Ghosts
02 – The Silent Drum
03 – Journey
04 – The Captain’s Dilemma
05 – Moon Waltz

Personnel:

John Carter – clarinet
Bobby Bradford – cornet
Marty Ehrlich – bass clarinet, flute
Don Preston – synthesizer, electronics
Benny Powell – trombone, bass trombone
Terry Jenoure – violin, vocals
Fred Hopkins – bass
Andrew Cyrille – drums
Osei-Tutu Felix, Kwasi Badu, Osei Assibey William – percussion, vocals

Recorded at Sorcerer Sound, New York; November 1986

*****
The third of five chapters in John Carter’s important work depicting the history of Black Americans has some of the most emotional music, as it covers the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in slave ships.

Clarinetist Carter features many top musicians on this set: Marty Ehrlich on bass clarinet and flute, cornetist Bobby Bradford, trombonist Benny Powell, Don Preston on synthesizer, bassist Fred Hopkins, drummer Andrew Cyrille, a few percussionists and violinist Terry Jenoure, who sings on “The Captain’s Dilemma.”

Intense and often scary music, quite successful in telling the tragic story.
—Scott Yanow

*****
*****
#4: Fields (1988)

Gramavision 79425

Track list:

01 – Ballad To Po’Ben
02 – Bootyreba At The Big House
03 – Juba’s Run
04 – Seasons
05 – Fields
06 – Children of the Fields
06a – At the Big Tree
06b – Clouds
06c – Shuckin’ Corn
07 – On A Country Road

Personnel:

John Carter – clarinet
Bobby Bradford – cornet
Theresa Jenoure – violin, vocals
Marty Ehrlich – bass clarinet, flute
Benny Powell – trombone
Don Preston – synthesizer, keyboards
Fred Hopkins – bass
Andrew Cyrille – drums
+
Erin Carter, Akili John Carter, Jamaal Carter, Erica Carter (all grandchildren) – children’s voices (#6)
Frederick Phineas – harmonica (#7)

Recorded at A&R Recording Studio, NYC; March 1988
Recorded by: Jim Anderson

Music composed by John Carter

*****
Clarinetist John Carter, a few years before his death, musically told the story of Black Americans in five albums.

The fourth set concentrates on the years of slavery, which were filled with both despair and hope for the future.

The octet (Carter, his longtime cornetist Bobby Bradford, violinist Terry Jenoure, who also sings, Marty Ehrlich on bass clarinet and flute, trombonist Benny Powell, keyboardist Don Preston, bassist Fred Hopkins and drummer Andrew Cyrille) covers a wide range of moods in the seven Carter originals, and the voice of John Carter’s late uncle reminiscing about the early days is also heard in spots.

Memorable.
—Scott Yanow

*****
*****
#5: Shadows on a Wall (1989)

Gramavision 79422

Track list:

01 – Sippi Strut
02 – Spats
03 – City Streets
04 – And I Saw Them
05 – 52nd Street Stomp
06 – Hymn to Freedom

Personnel:

John Carter – clarinet
Bobby Bradford – trumpet
Andrew Cyrille – drums
Marty Ehrlich – bass clarinet, flute
Fred Hopkins – bass
Terry Jenoure – violin, vocal
Benny Powell – trombone
Don Preston – keyboards, electronics
+
Gospel Musicians – Yes My Jesus Lives Singers (Rochelle Shorts, Jackie Simley, Michael Starr)
Organ – Bill Marshall

Recorded at A&R Recording Studio, NYC; April 1989
Recorded by: Jim Anderson
Engineer for Singers: Tony Jones

All compositions composed and arranged by John Carter

*****
The fifth and final chapter of John Carter’s project to musically portray the history of African Americans deals with the past hundred years.

Because the music (despite titles such as “Sippi Strut” and “52nd Street Stomp”) does not refer to earlier styles and instead stays unremittingly avant-garde, this set is a bit of a disappointment.

Some of the playing by the octet (particularly trumpeter Bobby Bradford and trombonist Benny Powell) is quite excellent but the singing of Terry Jenoure gets jarring within a short time.

This music is easier to respect than to love.
—Scott Yanow

*****
*****

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