MIKE CARR'S BLUE NOTE BAND
I have always enjoyed the organ playing of Mike Carr... as well as his excellent work on organ we also hear Mike on piano and vibes.
This is a bebop album all through and through, the tracks are dedicated to Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Milt Jackson and they are worthy of those famous names.
The complicated ensembles are beautifully played, which says a great deal for the technique and total ability of his young charges.
The empathy between Steve Kaldested on tenor and Steve Fishwick shows, both are excellent soloists and that goes for drummer Matt Fishwick as well.
Jazz CD Reviews - Music in the Web (UK)
And a group so rightly named, too! This is pure Blue Note type bebop with four guys, totally steeped in the idiom. Mike, of course, so well known, particularly to Club members - who has accompanied many top visiting American jazzmen at Ronnie Scott's Club - is leading, mainly from Hammond organ, an incredible trio of boppers. I say incredible because trumpeter Steve Fishwick of Donald Byrd-cum-Freddie Hubbard persuasion and twin brother Matt on drums are at the 'advanced' age of 25 and playing 100 per cent bebop! On tenor a guy of similar 'vintage', Steve Kaldestad, an ex-pat Canadian who plays the most warm, inventive and beautifully constructed lines as only the late Hank Mobley could produce.
Mike solos and accompanies mainly on organ, but also swings mightily on the instrument's bass pedals, even when featured on piano presumably immediately alongside the organ!0. He's also heard soloing on vibes (the only over-dubbing). Needless to say, he knocks us all out on everything he does. Let's remember that Oscar Peterson, no less, told Mike about his organ work 'there's no one in America swings like you do!'.
All are Mike's compositions except Lefty's Tune, by tenor man Gary Cox, an associate of Mike's back in the 1960s and the EmCee Five's days in Newcastle. The first Lefty's Tune can be heard on the Five's Birdland CD, as can the original version of the title track named in honour of their drummer, the late Ronnie Stephenson, to whom Mike has so aptly dedicated this CD, and who died just after this was recorded.
Jazz at Ronnie Scott's
For one of our finest Hammond organ players Mike Carr has made far too few records. This one, with his new band, is a gem.
The Northern Echo
CD OF THE WEEK The picture inside the CD booklet shows Mike Carr, looking remarkably like the Godfather, surrounded by three impossibly young faces. That pretty well sums up the music to be heard in this sharp, high-energy set. Carr, a serious contender for the title of Hammond Organ King of the World, has created a cracklingly effective little band. It features the 25-year-old Fishwick twins, Steve and Matt, on trumpet and drums respectively, along with Canadian saxophonist Steve Kaldestad. Most of the numbers go at quite moderate tempos but the verve and sheer intensity of the playing is enough to make your eyes water. Steve Fishwick, especially, is a name to watch out for. Not content with frightening other organists half to death, Carr also plays piano and vibraphone here, and composed all but one of the 11 tunes.
The Observer Review
20th October 2002
This album will delight all lovers of bebop music.
South Wales Evening Post
20th January 2003
Almost as far to the other side of keyboard-and-brass jazz as it's possible to imagine. Mike Carr has been an exciting stalwart of the British Hammond organ scene since the 1960s (one of his early bands on Tyneside included a young John McLaughlin), and this rare disc from him is deservedly attracting attention on both sides of the Atlantic. Carr plays keyboards and vibes, there's a lot of headlong Hammond blues and exclamatory hard bop. Almost all the tunes are Carr's originals, and bristle with the unkempt, soulful drive of the Hammond tradition and the raw eagerness of an even earlier proto-bop session from the 40s.
11th October 2002
Mike has dedicated this CD to the drummer Ronnie Stevenson... otherwise we should have called this album 'Mike's rocket' due to Mike's vital music.
International Archives for the Jazz Organ
New Releases 2002
The archetypal 1950s sound of the Blue Note label was hard bop in either the Jazz Messenger mode or jam sessions built around organist Jimmy Smith. The veteran Carr, a better, rhythmically more secure soloist than Smith, revisits it with the help of three younger musicians, tenor Steve Kaldestad and the brothers Steve (trumpet) and Matt (drums) Fishwick.It's a re-thread, rather than a set of new tyres, but replete with undeniably cracking energy. Carr, who also overdubs vibes, piano and electric piano in places, is the strongest soloist. But Kaldestad knows his stuff, and if the trumpeter is occasionally pushed too hard, he has the style generally nailed down. Despite some rougnhness, this is a group that can groove.
The Irish Times
17th October 2002
This is an outstanding album which gives enormous pleasure on each hearing.
Crescendo Jazz Music
Amble over to the Festival Hall foyer between 5.15pm and 6.45pm tomorrow (Fri 1 Nov) and enjhoy a free hour with one of the unsung heroes of British modern jazz, Mike Carr. A self-taught wizard on piano, vibes and Hammond organ, he plays with rare drive and fluency. Inspired by Blue Note greats like trumpeters Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan, tenorists Hank Mobley and Sonny Rollins, vibraphonist Milt Jackson and piansts Bud Powell and Horace Silver, Mike has never wavered from their post-Parkerian path. It's an exacting art, but exhilarating when done well.
On this album he introduces three kindred spirits - Canadian tenorist Steve Kaldestead and the Fishwick twins, trumpeter Steve and drummer Matt. These players look young enough to be his grandsons but sound completely at home with his neo-bop themes. Several are dedicated to bop icons ('Birdtime' to Parker, 'Blues For Dizzt' to Gillespie, 'Milt The Magnificent' to Jackson) and the title track commemorates the recently demised drummer Ronnie Stevenson, one of Mike's early Newcastle colleagues, whose impressive career included stints with such superstars as Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz and Wes Montgomery.
Evening Standard - Metrolife
1 - 7 November 2002
An album recommended... Mike Carr has come up with pastiches of devilish ingenuity.
BIRDLAND IS BACK
Mike Carr is one of the most enthusiastic people I know. He's also a totally dedicated jazzman with a special love for bebop. More than 40 years ago he led the EmCee Four (later the EmCee Five when brother Ian joined) up in Newcastle where they built up an enthusiastic following for their energetic hard bop. The quintet played their own brand of music generally along the lines of the Jazz Messengers and the Max Roach-Clifford Brown band but it used a lot of wholly original meterial written by Mike and his tenor saxist Gary Cox. anyone who wants to hear the kind of thing that kept the customers happy at Newcastele's 'Downbeat' club back in 1961 is strongly advised to get hold of 'Bebop From The East Coast' on Mike's own Birdland label.
Since basing himself in London in 1965 Mike Carr has been very busy with a number of musical projects including his Cargo label (for jazz-rock material) and in 1966 he took up the organ and played it better than almost any other jazz organist you care to mention. He has worked all over the world with a roster of artists which has included Coleman Hawkins, Arnett Cobb, Don Byas and, for a lengthy period, Ronnie Scott. Earlier last year he formed a new quartet - or perhaps it should a termed an octet because Mike plays five instruments, organ, piano, electric piano, bass pedals and vibes, sometime two, even three, at a time without the need for over-dubbing. The group's first CD is out titled 'Stevenson's Rocket' by Mike Carr's Blue Note Band on Birdland MC502. Ten of the eleven tunes were written by Carr and the album takes its name from one of them. 'Stephenson's Rocket' was dedicated to the EmCee Five's original drummer, Ronnie Stephenson who, by a cruel twist of fate, died two days after the recording sessions.
Apart from Mike the band comprises the talented Fishwick twins, Steve on trumpet, Matt on drums and Steve Kaldestad, a splendid tenor player from Saskatchewan now resident in Britain. Amazingly the Fishwicks were born on 7th July 1976, amazing because they play bebop as if they'd spent their formative years down at the Royal Roost listening to Bird and Fats Navarro. (In fact they were born on the 26th anniversary of Navarro's death.) Steve's solos positively crackle with excitement and the way the band charges into 'Birdtime', one of Mike's tributes to Charlie Parker, will bring a smile to the faces of those of us who came of age when bebop was a new thing.
In the strictest, historical sense bebop commenced in the early to middle Forties and by the early Fifties the main thrust engendered by Parker, Gillespie, Bud Powell and the rest had become somewhat diluted by outside influences. There were no bebop organists but if there had been then I'd like to think they would have had the drive and impact achieved here by Mike Carr. I'm also pleased to find that Mike has not forgotten his early love for the orthodox piano and the vibraphone, both of which he plays here with considerable skill and feeling. In fact his 'Milt The Magnificent' is one of the finest tributes I've heard to the departed Milt Jackson. I regret not being able to hear Mike's new Blue Note Band in person but the new CD is a triumph for these talented players.
This is a terrific, gutsy session of straight-ahead mainstrean jazz. It swings like mad, and is choc-a-bloc with both good soloing and attractive original compositions.
18th December 2002
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