John Carter | Echoes from Rudolph’s | No Business Records

John Carter – clarinet, soprano saxophone – Stanley Carter – bass | William Jeffrey – drums, percussion | Chris Carter – finger cymbals (CD 1, track 2) | Melba Joyce – vocals (CD 1, track 2)

CD 1: Tracks 1, 2, 4, & 5, recorded on 6th September, 1976; track 3 recorded on 14th July, 1977 at Spectrum Studios. All titles composed by John Carter. Originally released on LP by Ibedon Records (IAS 1000). CD 2: Recorded 19th March, 1977 at KPFK, Los Angeles, California. All titles composed by John Carter. Liner notes by Ed Hazell. Booklet design by Jeff DiPerna, tabula rasa graphic design. Cover photo and booklet photo by Mark Weber. Re-mastered by Arūnas Zujus at MAMAstudios. Produced by Danas Mikailionis & Ed Hazell. Co-producer – Valerij Anosov

Tracklist CD 1: 1. Echoes from Rudolph’s [10:06]  2. To a Fallen Poppy [6:13] 3. Angles [6:05]  4. Amin [9:51] 5. The Last Sunday [5:19]

Tracklist CD 2: 1. Echoes from Rudolph’s / [19:30] 2. To a Fallen Poppy Unidentified Title 1 / [8:15] 3. Unidentified Title 2 / [15:52] 4. Unidentified Title 3 / [22:00] 5. Unidentified Title 4 / [31: 57] “Amin”


Echoes from Rudolph’s

has topped my list of Albums Most in Need of Reissuing for the longest time. Not only is it one of clarinetist-composer John Carter’s greatest performances on record, it is also the only documentation of a critical period in the evolution of his art. It is the only album he made as a leader or co-leader between Secrets in 1972 and Variations in 1979. And it comes from the period in which he decided to discard his other horns and to focus exclusively on the clarinet.

Every Sunday afternoon for two and a half years, between 1973 and 1976, the John Carter Trio made Rudolph’s Fine Art Center their home. A former dentist’s office located at 3320 West 5oth Street in South Central Los Angeles, Rudolph’s had a raised stage at one end of the room. To the right was the green room, to the left was a door to individual rooms and a bath. In between was a little table for wine and cheese. Capacity was about 30, but there were usually fewer people than that in attendance. In this intimate setting, accompanied by his son Stanley on bass and longtime collaborator William Jeffrey on drums, Carter developed his art and grew to realize that the clarinet was his instrument of destiny.

As “Amin” shows, Carter was an original voice on soprano sax. In fact there was another tune for soprano saxophone recorded for the album, “Blues for Ruby Pearl,” but it was never released. At the last minute, Carter replaced it with “Angles,” a solo clarinet piece. As good as he was on soprano, it was on clarinet that Carter truly takes wing and soars. The new solo track signaled his transition exclusively to the instrument.

Carter released Echoes from Rudolph’s in late October or early November 1977 in an edition of only 55o copies on his own Ibedon label. “I be done” is a Black southern idiom common during John’s Texas childhood. Cornetist Bobby Bradford gives an example of its usage: “I be done go upside yo’ haid.” For Carter, the name not only connects to his Fort Worth roots, it also sounds suggestive of Africa.

The second disc of this set contains a rare broadcast recording by the trio. After Rudolph’s closed, the group was invited to perform on the Goodbye Porkpie Hat program on KPFK. Recorded in March 1977, just months before Carter added the solo clarinet track to the LP, it is very likely the last recording of Carter on soprano sax.

With most of his earliest recorded work with Bobby Bradford now back in print, Carter’s revolutionary achievements as an instrumentalist and composer can be reassessed and better appreciated. These trio sessions capture Carter at the very birth of his mature period, when clarinet became his sole instrument. In a sense, Echoes from Rudolph’s is the missing link between the New Art Jazz Ensemble of the late ‘6os/early ‘7os and his compositional masterpiece, Roots and Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music, released on five albums throughout the 198os and one of the great triumphs of that decade.

A very special thanks to Mark Weber, without whom this release would not have been possible. A witness to the ‘7os Los Angeles scene and a friend of Bradford and Carter, he contributed the photograph of the trio at Rudolph’s, as well as the radio broadcast heard on the second disc. A copy of his test pressing of the LP was used to remaster this long lost treasure of 197os jazz. — Ed Hazell


About Rudolph’s

In the late summer of 1973, upon returning from Europe, John Carter began organizing a new jazz group. John was also looking for a small concert hall for presentation of regular community concerts. At this time, Rudolph Porter had plans for utilizing his building in just the same way. Fortunately for jazz in Los Angeles, their collaboration produced two and one half years of fine jazz concerts. Rudolph’s Fine Arts Center came to be a place of varied artistic happenings, including poetry, work-shops, clinics and other musical presentations.

Rudolph’s, like many other clubs, lofts, workshops, etc., went the way of the “Landlord” in the summer of 1976. Rudolph’s echoes, echoes, echoes in the John Carter Ensemble which was organized and developed in the Sunday afternoon concerts.

Tell the saxophone players to bring their clarinets! That phrase has somehow lowered the clarinet’s priority in recent years. John Carter is a clarinet player of the first order. lie has made this almost willful little instrument, and its partner the soprano saxophone, obedient in his hands.

About the Players

Melba Joyce is one of John Carter’s favorite singers and this record is the fruit of many earlier plans and a long standing desire for these two to record. William Jeffrey, drums, is busy with finishing his B.A. require-ments and doing studio composing and arranging but finds time to bring his personal touch to John’s music. Stanley Carter, acoustic and electric bass is John’s second son and a promising young bassist with a clearly real feel for the new music. Chris Carter, John’s youngest son, plays finger cymbals and sees no difference between this and any other music.

Such is the nature of Rudolph’s and its offspring. Now, come share a piece of American culture with the John Carter Ensemble. — Bobby Bradford

Please Note: Here is an excellent article written by Mark Weber with a lot of photos. A second article on John Carter written by Mark Weber can be found by clicking here…

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2 thoughts on “John Carter | Echoes from Rudolph’s | No Business Records

  1. I was introduced to the music of clarinetist John Carter, as many of us were, via several excellent albums featuring himself and Bobby Bradford in a quartet. They were thoroughgoingly advanced and most unequivocally themselves. Later John went on his own with solo and group efforts that gave us an even deeper appreciation of his special world.

    There was a trio album Echoes from Rudolph’s that came out on an Ibedon LP that was especially fine. It has become quite rare these days, but No Business has come to a rescue with a CD reissue of the 1977 album and a full CD’s worth of unreleased tracks from the sessions that produced the album–resulting in a new two-CD set (No Business NBCD 80-81).

    It is John on clarinet and soprano, Stanley Carter on bass and William Jeffrey on drums doing a program of Carter compositions and giving us an excellent free-wheeling experience.

    The level of music does not at all lag on the second CD of unreleased tracks. It is more state-of-the-art music from the band.

    Stanley Carter and William Jeffrey are very much in form and equal to the challenge of playing with John Carter at a peak. They burst forward with a rolling, tumbling excellence that is fascinating and worthwhile in itself. But then John sounds just fabulous on both clarinet AND soprano here, reminding us of how beautiful a player he was, how original, how soulful and creative.

    Anyone who has not spent much time with the late Carter’s music needs to do so. This album set is an excellent place to start. And of course those who know John’s music will want to get a hold of this set, too. He was one of the most important stylists on clarinet in the flowering of the avant garde (along with Perry Robinson). Echoes from Rudolph’s provides you with a generous amount of his music in peak form.

    Get it if you can!

  2. This has been a year of rescue and recognition for the late, great reedist John Carter. In addition to this release, a reissue of certified hen’s tooth Echoes From Rudolph’s, we’ve also been gifted a reissue of Carter and Bobby Bradford’s stunning Self-Determination Music, and No U Turn: Live in Pasadena 1975, apreviously-unheard concert recording salvaged by the excellent Dark Tree Records.

    Echoes From Rudolph’s was the sole release on Carter’s Ibedon label, originally issued in 1977 in a scant edition of 550. Like too much of Carter’s music, it quickly went out of print, lost to all but the most steadfast collectors. The album (and the live performance included as a second CD) features Carter largely in a trio context with his son Stanley on bass and drummer William Jeffrey. Both recordings are firm assertions of Carter the instrumentalist, rather than the composer and bandleader. His virtuosity is the nucleus of this music, pushing at the limits of the soprano saxophone and clarinet, the two reeds he had increasingly gravitated toward in the years leading up to Echoes. In fact, according to Mark Weber in No U Turn’s liner notes, “Angles”—the solo clarinet midpoint of Echoes, recorded a year after the rest of the material—was Carter’s first statement after definitively choosing clarinet, which he would play exclusively from then until his death in 1991.

    The title track is a blustery affair, Carter slurring and sputtering in the upper ranges of the clarinet, dragging the rhythm section along with him. Carter is all velocity, his supersonic runs adorned with trills and vibrato that seem to double the number of notes, his altissimo at the very edges of audibility, notes screeching into outer space. Stanley Carter and Jeffrey make a valiant effort to keep up, though there are moments when the three independent voices struggle to cohere. The rhythm section is a bit more effective later on “Amin,” with Carter the son locking into a furious walking bassline while his father’s soprano streaks above. “To a Fallen Poppy” is a moody moment to catch one’s breath, adding Melba Joyce’s haunting, echoed vocals and one of Carter’s other sons, Chris, on percussion. Closer “The Last Sunday” pits Carter’s dog-whistle soprano against arco bass harmonics and crashing cymbals: the sounds of men trying to take flight through sheer strength of musical will.

    The second CD includes a previously unissued performance recorded in early 1977 at public radio station KPFK’s studio in Los Angeles, and is nearly twice as long as Echoes. The first track is a curiously languid and thin-sounding medley of “Echoes From Rudolph’s” and “To a Fallen Poppy,” the former like a zombie version of the album track: it’s up and moving, but oddly lifeless. Stanley switches to electric bass as the music segues into “To a Fallen Poppy,” and his introspective lines and Jeffrey’s slow tom rolls finally gel into an effective background for Carter’s melancholic lines.

    The second track is even longer still, featuring four unidentified tunes that range from searing free jazz to wistful ballads before eventually closing with “Amin.” Thankfully, there’s much more life here. The injection of more solid rhythm seems to invigorate all the players, the music reaching its zenith during the third unidentified track. During the build-up, as Carter takes a long solo in the second piece, his high notes tax the recording setup, resulting in some bizarre tape distortion. But, rather than appearing as defects, they actually dramatize Carter’s intensity: how could some flimsy magnetic tape possibly contend with the vitality of his music?

    NoBusiness is to be commended for resurrecting this rare music, and its efforts in working with less-than-perfect source material. Both Echoes and the concert recording suffer from some recording deficiencies, with the bass thrust too far up in the mix and Carter too far back, especially when the music gets turbulent. Listening with headphones improves the experience, particularly for the KPFK tracks. In all, an important document of Carter’s 70s work and of West Coast jazz history. Now let’s start getting all the Roots and Folklore records back into print!

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