By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 6.30.10
Buy CD: Joy Spring
For a guy who has played jazz piano for more than three decades, Bill Carrothers has remained pretty much under the radar to the general public.
This, despite releasing 18 albums as a leader, along with an equal number as a sideman; participating in numerous jazz festivals and concerts in the United States and Europe; and playing with a long list of the best jazz artists alive. Carrothers' preference is small groups; on several of his early releases, he was supported only by a drummer.
This album features a trio; Carrothers is joined by bassist Drew Gress and drummer Bill Stewart.
One of Carrothers' favorite musicians (and mine, as well) was a legendary trumpeter Clifford Brown, who was killed in 1956 in an automobile accident, at the age of 25.
All 12 tracks on this album were either composed or frequently performed by Brown. He was known as a hard bopper, and he was exciting and sensational to experience. His life was alarmingly short, but few have accomplished what he did in the short time he was with us. This album is an homage.
Carrothers is, at times, reminiscent of Bill Evans; he's thoughtful, sensitive, innovative and soulful. Regardless of the tempo, Carrothers grabs us by the throat and holds our attention. Additionally, the more we listen to him, the better he sounds. He could play something a dozen times, and it would be different each time.
It's also worth mentioning that Carrothers' sense of humor is exceptional; just visit his website, and you'll see what I mean!