Triumphant again: saxophonist Kenyon Carter’s
“Game On” wins a Global Music Award even before the album is released amidst a buzzing radio single featuring
guitarist Chuck Loeb and an inspiring back story
A pivotal album inspired by a pivotal, life-changing experience, “Game On” is the apropos title of Kenyon Carter’s (www.KenyonCarter.com) album that was released Friday (August 14) by CurvePoint Media, a ten-song set of originals that the saxophonist wrote and produced in this “Go for it!” moment in his career. The title track to his third release, which earned a silver medal last week for outstanding achievement from the Global Music Awards, knocks it out of the park with an MVP assist from guitar great Chuck Loeb (Fourplay), a contemporary jazz heavyweight who trades ferocious licks with Carter’s spirited tenor horn. There’s a sense of urgency to the cut that has been among the most added singles on the Billboard chart, which can be directly attributed to an incident in Carter’s not too distant past that influences everything the Atlanta-based musician does.
Carter ticketed “Game On,” which hit No. 35 on the iTunes Jazz Albums chart Friday, as the effort to elevate him into the major leagues after a couple of well-received outings that introduced his sound and songbook to a national radio audience. The time to breakthrough in a big way is now – something the artist learned from having his right arm crushed in a car crash that almost kept him out of the game for good. Severe radial nerve damage left doctors wondering if Carter would ever regain full use of the appendage. Persisting patiently through eight months of daily rehab and endless hours dedicated to re-learning how to play the sax with the aid of a specially-designed therapy glove, Carter’s form and function gradually returned, but inside, he would never be the same again. The experience was a powerful wakeup call that the time to chase his dream all out was now and he has not looked back since. Playing with a technical proficiency that exhibits admirable control and restraint when appropriate, his exuberance and drive inform his improvisational soloing that is equal parts impassioned bellows and blasts and graceful finesse that is delicately deployed.
Hustling out and immediately breaking into a sweat, Carter gives the fervent title cut a boost of guitar muscle from Loeb. The ensuing tenor sax-electric guitar shoot-around erupts into an all-out court battle. There’s a full lineup of potential singles and fan favorites on “Game On.” Carter’s forte as a songwriter is cranking out big hooks that he animates with a variety of saxes allowing him to explore the full “vocal” range of his horn over rhythmic grooves that swirl measures of straight-ahead jazz, R&B and adult pop into substantive soul-jazz collages.
A crowd pleaser with verve, Carter is excited to get his “Game On” this Saturday night (August 15) just outside of his Atlanta home base with a show at Marietta Jazz & Jokes followed a week later by a second album release celebration at The Velvet Note in Alpharetta, Georgia on August 22.
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