Kent Carter

Beauvais Cathedral

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First released as an LP in 1976 on Emanem, Kent Carter's first (almost) solo album of (almost) free improvisations was reissued on CD in October 2001 with 20 minutes of extra material. All the music was recorded in 1974-1975 at the Chateau de Maignelay (Beauvais, France), where the bassist resided at the time. Most of it was improvised but there are a few compositions resulting from commissions or multi-track experiments. When more than one part is heard, Carter usually performed all of the music, except in four cases where an extra musician was called in (including Carlos Zingaro in the closing "Tarragona"). Although all of these pieces were clearly experiments both in terms of conceiving music and pushing the possibilities of crude recording means, they make for a beautiful, mature album. The sound quality is not always fantastic, but the CD reissue cleans up a lot of noise and, in any case, the music makes up in excitement what it may lack in high fidelity. Carter is heard on double bass, cello, viola, melodica, and radio. The range of expression goes from cello and bass solos ("Bass Suite No 1: Fingers" and "Cello Solo 2: Beginnings" constitute highlights) to virtual chamber ensembles. "Beauvais Cathedral," for radio, piano strings, double bass, and five cellos, is the most striking, unusual piece of the set -- a rich, lugubrious drone. For those who know Carter only for his lifelong tenure as Steve Lacy's sideman, this album holds a revelation.

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