The dogmatists and ideologues of the jazz world love to tell musicians what they can or cannot sound like; they will insist that if one wants to be taken seriously as a jazz improviser, he/she cannot have any rock, pop or R&B influence whatsoever. But thankfully, many jazz musicians ignore the dogmatists and ideologues and follow their own musical instincts -- which is what Kenny Carr does on Changing Tide. Much of this 52-minute CD has a lot to offer from a hard bop/post-bop standpoint; the California guitarist, who composed and arranged all of the material, keeps things straight-ahead on hard-swinging tracks like "The Chase," "Downstairs," "Tempo Tantrum," and the 12-bar jazz/blues item "Blues for Ray." But things become more pop-influenced on "Costa del Sol," "East Side Groove," and the congenial "Bay to Breakers" -- not pop-influenced in the elevator music sense that so many smooth jazz/NAC radio stations are infamous for, but definitely more pop-influenced than Changing Tide's hard bop and post-bop offerings. One hears a variety of influences on this 2007 recording, ranging from Wes Montgomery and George Benson to Pat Metheny, Larry Carlton, and Earl Klugh, and whether he is playing something straight-ahead or something more pop-minded, Carr is generally a very melodic and accessible guitarist. Thankfully, Carr has supportive accompaniment throughout the 52-minute CD; five of the disc's 11 tracks are trio performances that unite him with acoustic bassist Tom Baldwin and drummer Frank Russo, and the trio becomes a quartet when Donny McCaslin is added on tenor sax. Diverse yet cohesive, Changing Tide paints an attractive picture of Carr's skills as a soloist, composer, and arranger.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson