Past Published Work

I need to make it a point that whenever I write something for another publication, I should post it here as well, or at least link to it. I'm currently looking for work now since I'm not on other endeavors so I should have more time and energy to write. I have clearly been slacking but I want to keep writing here and hopefully anyone who shows up here would want to read what I have to say.

Recently, I've been freelancing for San Antonio's community newspaper African-American Reflections. Until I can work with the publisher of that paper to ensure that posted stories have more longevity, I'm not sure about the stability of linking articles I've written there, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

Last month, I attended a Ramsey Lewis concert that I thought was quite good and have said so in print. In addition to that, I also attended the James Carter Organ Trio concert that same weekend. The link to that died, so I'm going to post the unedited article here.


James Carter Trio: An All Around ‘Okay’ Group
Anthony Dean-Harris
Contributing Writer

By 8pm on April 4, the 650-seat Jo Long Theatre of the Carver Community Cultural Center was less than half full. This faithful crowd was still moving in their seats throughout the night for the James Carter Organ Trio despite the drum levels being set too high and the lighting adjustments being off initially.

By 8:08, the concert was off and running with James Carter playing the saxophone (soprano, tenor, and baritone) and the flute. By his side were Leonard King on drums and Gerard Gibbs on the Hammond B3 Organ. King’s work on the drums has a great energy to it. He’s quite the spitfire, at times bigger than Jeff Ballard of the Brad Mehldau Trio (and certainly bigger than Jorge Rossy).

Gerard Gibbs on the organ needed a bit of warming up to really catch my interest but when he did, there were times he surprised me with how much of a technician he was. His innovation and methodology show years of study and a certain kind of craft that shows attention to his work, although his playing seemed sometimes hollow. Still, his use of the ostinato or the integration of keyboard tones in various pieces show he’s rather inventive at his work, if only it didn’t sound so much like work.

But it was Carter who did all he could to shine that evening. The show was all about him and he took the stage with a presence all his own. He utilized the Coltrane overblow method to ignite passion in the various, obtuse (but grooving) covers he played, but what came off in Coltrane as excitement seemed in Carter this evening as more like making excuses for frequent mistakes.

Carter, while considered prodigious by many, has built a career of bouncing from subgenre to subgenre. While it shows a certain degree of versatility, it also means he’s not really mastering a certain form of jazz. Thus he can get by on the rudiments of playing straight ahead or avant garde jazz, but he seems often unfocused, especially the night of the concert in which after a while, he seemed to be prattling on for a bit too long and wearing some people’s patience.

Yet that night Carter was able to at least look cool while playing merely alright. His Coltranesque overblows were accented with Vincent D’Onofrio in Law and Order: Criminal Intent-like cranes to the side. His expressiveness showed a certain whimsy with the audience.

In essence, the James Carter Organ Trio is what the audience will make of it. Either he’s a virtuoso or he’s still young, cocky and not quite reaching his full potential. Some of the 300 in attendance that night may have walked out feeling great, but this author is in the latter camp and he certainly caught a case of the sleepies at around 9:30.


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