Jazz musician James Carter

Jazz musician James Carter will be playing his heart out next Saturday at Tempe Center for the Arts.

Jazz musician James Carter considers his situation “blessed.” 

He’s toured around the world on solo and band jaunts, but this November, the James Carter Organ Trio will tour with fellow Blue Note artists vocalist Kandace Springs and pianist James Francies in celebration of the label’s 80th anniversary. 

The musicians will perform a set of their own music followed by a finale with all the acts coming together to perform a classic Blue Note tune. 

The show comes to the Tempe Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 16. Carter said this is his first Arizona show since the 1990s. 

“I’ve recently heard of The Nash, which is in Phoenix,” he said. “I’ve been dying to get out there to see it.”

The three musicians are stellar in their own right. Springs—a Nashville singer and pianist—will release her third Blue Note album, “The Women Who Raised Me,” in early 2020. 

After her head-turning 2014 self-titled EP (which caught the attention of Prince who raved “Kandace has a voice that could melt snow”), Springs released her Larry Klein-produced debut album Soul Eyes in 2016, followed by her 2018 album, “Indigo,” produced by Karriem Riggins. 

Francies was born in Houston, but is now based in New York City. He released his acclaimed debut album, “Flight,” on Blue Note in 2018.

 Francies has played with jazz headliners like Pat Metheny, Chris Potter, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Stefon Harris, Eric Harland and Terrace Martin, and racked up equally impressive credits in hip-hop and R&B: from gigs with Lauryn Hill, José James, Common and Nas, to studio time with Chance the Rapper and appearances with The Roots on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

The Detroit-born Carter released his Blue Note debut, “James Carter Organ Trio: Live from Newport Jazz,” on August 30. On the album, he reinvented Django Reinhardt. 

He’s well known in the Motor City. As a fledgling musician, Harry Connick Jr. pulled Carter on stage during a gig at the Fox Theatre in 1991.

“I’ve definitely been in a blessed situation,” he said. “I’ve worked with different heroes and musical people. I’ve enjoyed all the blessings that have come as a byproduct and continue to flow as a result.”

Besides Connick, Carter has enjoyed hanging out with jazz trumpeter Lester Bowie, who died in 1999.

“He was one of the individuals who really stressed diversity in terms of bands’ portfolios,” he said. “He brought different flavors while being artistically fulfilled. He was one of the main catalysts that stuck with me.”

What has really stuck with Carter is Blue Note Records’ legacy.

“The items that have been rolling off the assembly since 1939 have been the soundtrack to all of our lives,” Carter said. “That roster is very exhilarating. To be able to contribute something seminal in the near future is amazing.”

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