You’ve reached a Premium article. To continue reading, please login or start a 3-MONTH TRIAL SUBSCRIPTION for just 99 cents/month. You’ll receive unlimited digital access plus a complimentary issue of our award-winning print magazine.
Join Our Newsletter
Join thousands of other jazz enthusiasts and get new music, artists, album, events and more delivered to your inbox.
One of the unheralded figures of the 1970s jazz-funk movement, keyboardist Doug Carn emerges from obscurity with his debut album on the new Jazz is Dead label, founded by producer/composer/instrumentalists Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge.
These three form a creative team that time-trips us back five decades or so with a set of mostly rough-hewn funk instrumentals recorded to tape in Younge’s analog studio in Los Angeles. The music is more about feel and attitude than instrumental prowess. Most of the 13 tunes (clocking in at 42 minutes) are built on bare sketches, scales or riffs.
Malachi Morehead’s drums, especially on the energetic funk tracks, are pushed up in the mix and create quite a propulsive racket. An ever-present bed of Fender Rhodes reinforces the music’s period flavor. Tandem horn parts by trumpeter Zach Ramacier and saxophonist Shai Golan are a tad pitchy, sometimes taking on a subtle African flavor. Overall, the music has a ramshackle quality, which adds to its appeal.
Carn, 72, plays Hammond B-3 throughout. He’s no virtuoso, but Jimmy Smith-style flash isn’t called for here. Carn keeps his solos brief and weaves ethereal sound through the horn lines.
The music works best when it focuses on driving, percussion-forward funk (“Dimensions,” ‘Processions,” “Lions Walk” ), less so on slower, gentler tunes like “Down Deep” and “Desires.” “Nunca Um Malambro,” a breezy samba, would’ve been better left off.
In all, Doug Carn is an object lesson in the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, and an enjoyable one at that.