A progressive, classically trained bassist, Kent Carter is a highly regarded improvisor and composer known for his many avant-garde jazz credits. A longtime associate of saxophonist Steve Lacy, Carter has also taught and composed for theater and film. Born in 1939 in Hanover, New Hampshire, Carter grew up in a creative family, the son a violist and conductor. Initially starting on piano and bassoon, he switched to bass in the late '50s and earned his degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston. While living on the East Coast, he played with pianist Lowell Davidson, and late joined pianist Paul Bley's ensemble and the Jazz Composers Guild Orchestra, led by Carla Bley and Michael Mantler.
He spent much of his time touring Europe, working with such luminaries as Barry Altschul, Derek Bailey, Han Bennink, Don Cherry, Enrico Rava, Roswell Rudd, and others. As a leader, he debuted with 1976's Beauvais Cathedral, a set of free improvisations recorded at Chateau de Maignelay in Beauvais, France. He continued his association with Lacy, and found work with various forward-thinking groups including John Stevens' Spontaneous Music Ensemble, and TOK, a trio with Takashi Kako and Oliver Johnson. He also formed his own trio with Carlos Zingaro and François Dréno. In 1977, he delivered Lost in June, which featured Lacy and percussionist Andrea Centazzo.
By the '80s, Carter had relocated full-time to France, where he taught at the Beaux Art School, Angouleme. He and his wife, dancer/choreographer Michala Marcus, also formed MAD, a music, arts, and dance studio. In 1982, he joined pianist Misha Mengelberg on Regeneration, an exploration of the work of Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk. During these years, he worked in the trio Detail, with Frode Gjerstad and John Stevens, and was a member of Voyage, with Beñat Achiary and David Holmes. There were also collaborations with Karl Berger, Claude Bernard, Klaus Kugel, Charlie Mariano, Billy Bang, and more.
Over the next several years, Carter delivered a series of orchestral string albums including 1999's The Juillaguet Collection, with bassist/violinist Albrecht Maurer, and 2006's Intersections, with Maurer and violist Katrin Mickiewicz. In 2015, he expanded the group to a five-piece, adding vocalist Laura Tejeda Martin and trombonist Christine Bopp, for Oratorios and Songs.