When most fans think of cities that are synonymous with great jazz then New York, New Orleans and Chicago may well be the first three that come to mind. San Francisco and those pockets of talent in and around the Bay area are some of the finest artists one can hear and can hold their own on any bandstand with trumpet player Ian Carey as good as they get.
The Ian Carey Quintet +1 with the plus one being the newest member Kasey Knudsen drop their third effort on February 19th, 2013. After reviewing after fine Bay area trumpet player Joel Behrman it is not a stretch to say San Francisco is churning out talent almost as fast as Detroit pits outs automobiles with the main difference being the musicians coming from San Francisco are of a higher quality and with the durability necessary for the long haul.
Ian Carey and his Quintet have been toiling away in relative anonymity hanging out in the post-bop influenced sound that some of his contemporaries have made a career out of. Carey moves away from the more traditional head-solo-head that for some is all to predictable and stretches out his talent with a formidable group of improvisers. While labels are somewhat arbitrary by nature a fairly accurate description might be a music happy place that embodies the sonic depth of field between post bop, free bop, and a deceptively open ended ambient texture that is nothing but pure flavor for a most solid outing. The addition of alto saxophonist Kasey Knudsen who seems to channel an Eric Dolphy like quality is a stroke of pure genius as she adds but another layer of flavor and a harmonic nuances that makes Roads & Codes a most intriguing release.
While my goal is to stay away from direct opinion as I leave that to the listener, the balance of sound runs from Stravinsky to Charles Ives nothing seems out of place nor are the normal pretentious trip wires hit on those unexpected tunes such as "West London" which originates from the collection 114 songs. In some ways, Ives was experimenting in a more free form inspirational context later to morp into free jazz so the tune is reharmed with ease. "Wheels" is somewhat more old school and a waltz dedicated to the great flugelhorn and trumpet virtuoso Kenny Wheeler whose contributions stand alone in the history and development of more complex compositions which is where Carey is heading with this release. Taking eclectic to a new dimension we have "Dead Man"whose theme is part of the Neil Young mysterious and haunting soundtrack. If Jimi Hendrix played jazz then this may have been his sound via the more psychedelic lyrics from this somewhat ambient soundtrack.
The irony here is that Carey is also an avid blogger with a very insightful piece on the Nicholas Payton controversy which was titled, "How Not To Be A Bitter White Jazz Musician." I am of the opinion Payton's blog post was more along the lines of a self serving P.R. piece to gain attention for a release that was a stiff and only after six months did it barely crack the Jazz Week charts and I published a link proving Concord walked away from the deal not Payton but this is not about Payton nor his threatened law suit which oddly enough never materialized. Payton's misogynistic view of women in his last release Bitches begged for attention, sadly he was not ready for it. I don't do race baiting so let us wrap up with Ian Carey.
Ian Carey Quintet + 1 are on the cutting edge of new sounds and exciting compositions for modern jazz and their musical stock seems to be an arrow pointing straight up!
Tracks: Rain Tune; 6 AV Local; Dead Man; Nemuri Kyoshiro; Wheels; Count Up; Andante; The Thread; West London.
Personnel: Ian Carey: trumpet; flugelhorn; Evan Francis: flute & tenor saxophone; Kasey Knudsen: alto saxophone; Adam Shulman: piano; Fred Randolph: bass; Jon Arkin: drums.