Saturday, August 11, 2012

Some Questions for ATL Saxophonist Kenyon Carter (Upcoming Concert: 8/12/12)

Kenyon Carter
Anticipating his concert tomorrow (Sunday, 8/12) at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Columbus, Georgia, I posed a few questions to Atlanta saxophonist Kenyon Carter. There's a bit more about the event in my last post, or go to Columbus Jazz Society's website (columbusjazzsociety.com) that is updated regularly with information about its upcoming performances.

You can find Kenyon's album and links to his books of transcriptions at his website: kenyoncarter.com.

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PMc: What is it about Atlanta and the south that keeps you living and playing around here?

KC: Well, I was born and raised in south Georgia (Tifton) and I just love the south. I've only been in Atlanta since 2007 and love the people, the city, the skyline, the weather, and especially the amazing musicians on the jazz scene. Atlanta is also so close to all of the other great southern venues. It is a perfect place to call home. The best thing about Atlanta for me, though, is that it's where my wife is!

PMc: You are part of the Auburn-originated band Kidd Blue and I know that Coleman Woodson, III, from Montgomery will be playing on the concert in Columbus. How did you start making connections to the Alabama music scene?

KC: I joined Kidd Blue when I moved to Atlanta in 2007 thanks to my good friend and KB keyboard / trumpet player, Andy David (drummer's brother). I'd been playing with their band, the David Brothers Band, for a few years before moving to Atlanta. I met Coley on Kidd Blue gigs and Tim Chambliss (KB's leader) has had us both on many jazz gigs over the years. Tim books me at Piccolo pretty often as well and I've gotten to know a lot of great Alabama players through that gig too.

PMc: Your latest album, Right by My Side, tends toward the smooth side of jazz. I know from live listening that you have straight-ahead chops, too. Do you identify more with either of these? Are there other areas of music that you gravitate toward?

KC: Great question! I'm a huge fan of music that grooves, regardless of style. I love [Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon], and all the masters of straight-ahead but I also love Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, etc., and even Rascal Flats, John Mayer, and tons of other current pop artists.

While I love straight-ahead jazz, and I'd say I spend most of my practice time in that style, I find myself being most influenced as a composer by pop music. When I sit down to write, I'm finding that those "groove" influences tend to dominate and I'm just trying to write music that feels good above all else.

PMc: Who are you listening to these days?

KC: It really depends on the situation. On the jazz side of things, I always come back to Cannonball [Adderly] but I have really been into Hank Mobley lately and just wrote a Sonny Rollins transcription book last year. There's also always a bit of Chris Potter and Michael Brecker in the mix.

I've also just recently gotten into Jeff Lorber's last couple of albums. I love the way he merges pop-jazz and straight-ahead.

PMc: Tell us about the players in the band for tomorrow's gig?

KC: These are some of my favorite players around! Coley is on keys and John David is on drums. The three of us have worked together as a trio quite a bit and those two guys play SO well together! They're coming from the same place conceptually as far as time/groove/swing is concerned and it's an absolute blast to play with them! Tim Aucoin, a native of New Orleans, fills out the rhythm section on bass. Tim is one of the hardest swinging players you'll ever hear and he always brings joy to the stage. I think we've really got a great group for the Columbus gang and I can't wait!

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