By Scott Yanow TC the 3rd, who was born William Theodore Carney III, grew up…
By Scott Yanow
TC the 3rd, who was born William Theodore Carney III, grew up in Philadelphia and has been a significant part of that city’s local scene for the past quarter-century. The son of organist Trudy Pitts and the late drummer Bill “Mr. C.” Carney, TC (who is modestly billed as “The Voice of Jazz”) can be seen as an extension of the hip bebop vocalese singers of the 1950s, particularly Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure and Jon Hendricks. His tone sometimes recalls Jefferson, he’s a skilled lyricist and his scat-singing is inventive and enthusiastic.
For his third recording as a leader, the singer is joined by either Rodney Kendrick or Marcus Persiani on piano, bassist Curtis Lundy, drummer Byron “Wookie” Landham and, occasionally, tenor saxophonist JD Allen and trumpeter Josh Evans. Actually, on the opener, “The New Star Spangled Banner,” TC is all by himself, singing his own — and arguably superior — lyrics for a chorus of the national anthem. The rhythm section, plus JD Allen, join him for the friendly and swinging autobiographical song “Teddy Makes Three.” In the tradition of Julie London, “Bye Bye Blackbird” has the singer performing a duet with bassist Lundy, giving listeners an opportunity to savor the warmth of his voice as he plays with the time while swinging.
Other selections include the soulful groove of “Juice,” which inspires TC to yodel a bit à la Leon Thomas; a very slow version of “Solar,” given new lyrics and renamed “Solar Sign”; “No More Fears, No More Tears,” his vocalized version of Thelonious Monk’s “Think of One”; and the medium-tempo “Bright As the Sun.” The set closes with a medium-tempo blues that could be considered the group’s closing theme, “The Music.”
While I wish more solo space had been given to the two horns and that they had engaged in some interplay with the singer, The Music is an excellent showcase for the vocalizing and writing of TC the 3rd, a singer well worth discovering.