Sweet and Lowdown

In two new albums, sax giant James Carter takes on an opponent his own size: The electric guitar

More soul than George Benson, more fingers than Django: James Carter
More soul than George Benson, more fingers than Django: James Carter

More than ever, Carter's recordings implicitly insist that jazz isn't for the coy shadings of mere stylists, not the junior partner in some future wary alliance with rock or techno. If critic Gary Giddins is right and jazz can progress no further as "a music"--that is to say, it's a form whose edges now fold inward--then Carter shows how inexhaustible this finite mass can be.

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