Up-and-coming jazz artist Kendall Carter is doing his part to bring a new attention and respect for the role of the organ in mainstream music. That effort comes in the form of his debut album, Introducing Kendall Carter. Released March 30 through Lladnek Music, the 11-song record is an intriguing way in which to do so. That is because the record is in large part, a covers compilation. Typically, using a covers compilation as one’s debut record is not the best start. That is because it fails to really display the artist/act’s talents. Luckily, the record does have at least two original compositions here against the either covers that make up the rest of the record’s body. While the original compositions are themselves a positive, their placement leads to one negative, that being the sequencing. This will be discussed a little later. While the record’s sequencing poses a little bit of a problem, the production of each song adds its own positive touch to the presentation. It will be discussed later, too. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the record. All things considered, they make the record in whole maybe not the strongest start to Carter’s career, but still a record worth hearing at least once.
Kendall Carter’s debut record, Introducing Kendall Carter is an interesting way for the up-and-coming jazz organist to start his professional recording career. That is because the record is in fact, largely a covers collection. Carter takes on standards from the likes of Bill Withers, Sam Rivers, and Carla Bley. Some of the songs are more well-known than others and vice versa. The fact of the matter though, is that most of the songs featured in this record are covers. That is not necessarily a way to fully display one’s talents and abilities, taking on others’ works. Typically such records are saved for later on in an act’s career, when said act(s) have/had better established themselves. For all of the covers featured in the record, there are at least two originals, though only one was composed by Carter, while the other was composed by jazz guitarist Dave Stryker with Carter performing. The one song composed by Carter is ‘Punjabi Affair.’ It comes late in the record’s almost hour-long run time. The nearly five-minute opus is an enjoyable work that puts Carter and his talents on the organ front and center. It serves well to give organs more credibility as lead instruments in the mainstream music community. That is proven through the control and subtlety that Carter displays throughout the song. Since no liner notes are featured win the record’s packaging, it has to be assumed that the guitar line in this arrangement was performed by Stryker. His equally controlled performance gives the song a nice easy listening style touch to the work, making for quite the interesting dichotomy of styles between his own line and that of Carter. Kenny Phelp’s control and focus as he keeps time is just as applause worthy in this song. The light cymbal tones, rim clicks on the snare and ghost notes all work so well here to add their own touch to the whole. All things considered, the overall performance, and the way in which it progresses, makes for such an interesting presentation in itself. It is just too bad that this exhibition is placed so late in the album’s sequencing. This aspect will be addressed a little later.
The other original featured in Introducing Kendall Carter is a song composed by Dave Stryker (who released his own new album this year titled Baker’s Circle). The song is fittingly titled ‘Blues For Kendall.’ This song closes out the album, again going back to the noted issue of the sequencing, which will come into play later. While the song in question was composed by Stryker, Carter does get a starring role alongside Stryker here. The light, staccato notes and the clear differences in the dynamics pair with the infectious Kansas City style blues approach that he and Stryker take here makes this song another great way for Carter to really introduce himself. That is especially the case considering how different this composition is from ‘Punjabi Affair.’ Phelps’ steady time keeping is right there with any blues drummer, giving just enough flare with the cymbals and snare. The whole makes this another great original composition and performance thereof. Keeping this in mind, the song pairs with ‘Punjabi Affair’ to show even more why Introducing Kendall Carter deserves to be heard at least once.
While ‘Punjabi Affair’ and ‘Blues For Kendall’ are both strong ways for Carter to introduce himself to audiences, their placement in the record’s overall sequencing proves somewhat problematic. That is considering that the album’s title is in fact Introducing Kendall Carter, not Introducing A Bunch of Covers. If Carter and all involved with this record wanted to properly introduce him and his talents, it would have made more sense to have made ‘Punjabi Affair’ – one of the record’s two original compositions – the record’s opener. ‘Blues for Kendall’ could (and probably should have) been placed right around the record’s midpoint as a reminder of his talents in this case as a performer. The use of the covers in between would have been a good balance since they make up the majority of the record. This would have helped the album better live up to its title than the sequencing featured in the final product. Now even with this in mind, the existing sequencing is not enough to make the record a failure, though it certainly would have helped with the record’s general presentation.
Moving on from the concerns raised by the record’s sequencing, the production rounds out its most important elements. The production is important because each song bears a different sound and style throughout the record. That means the utmost attention had to be paid to each musician’s performance from song to song. From the dynamic balances between the musicians’ performances to the control in terms of added elements within the songs, each arrangement clearly required lots of attention. That attention paid off in each song. That is because each song’s general effect ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment, even with the songs mostly being covers. Keeping this in mind, this element brings everything full circle and completes the record’s presentation. When it is considered along with the record’s songs and sequencing, the whole makes this debut from Kendall Carter worth hearing at least once.
Kendall Carter’s debut record, Introducing Kendall Carter is a moderately successful first impression from the up-and-coming jazz artist. That is proven in part through the record’s featured songs. The songs featured in the record are for the most part covers. There are two original compositions that offset those covers at least somewhat. This leads to the record’s most notable concern, that being its sequencing. Those two originals would have done better being placed far earlier in the record’s sequencing than they are. This concern is not enough to doom the record, but certainly would have helped the record’s general effect. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements. That is because the attention that was paid to each arrangement resulted in presentations whose sound is expertly balanced throughout. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this record. All things considered, they make the record a moderately successful introduction for Carter.
Introducing Kendall Carter is available now. More information on the record is available along with all of Carter’s latest news at:
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