WBGO Radar

The Michael Carvin Experience: Flash Forward

the michael carvin experience

When drummer Michael Carvin sits among his instruments, the initial observation is a guy in a room surrounded by fine china. It's a look of respect, earned over five decades with Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Illinois Jacquet, Pharoah Sanders, Hampton Hawes and Jackie McLean.

And then the music starts, and what Jon Hendricks calls "a human drum machine" grabs your attention and keeps it for the duration.

Michael Carvin's drumwork has been heard on over 200 recordings. His 40-plus-year school of drumming has turned out some of today's most respected rhythm makers, including Ralph Peterson, Jr., Nasheet Waits, E.J. Strickland, Kim Thompson, Rodney Green and Eric McPherson.

Carvin's own working bands have been a constant delight, and his previous recordings have been a strong testament to that.

With Flash Forward, Carvin's first recording in eight years, and the first with his current band of two years, Michael picks up sticks and brushes where he last left us - to dress up the familiar and not so familiar with grab-hold originality and appeal.

The Michael Carvin Experience features pianist Yayoi Ikawa, bassist Jansen Cinco and saxophonist Keith Loftis, all younger players who immediately let us know the music's in great creative hands.

On the disc, we experience Miles Davis's classic "So What" as, Carvin says, "freer and looser than you've ever heard before." Loftis and Ikawa find new room in this piece, which first attracted Carvin to the music as a 9 year old growing up in Houston, Texas.

Horace Silver's "Sayonara Blues" shows that here is a listening band, freely exchanging ideas inside the leader's rhythms.

Hearing this, you get why Carvin says, " this is the first band I've had where I can come home at night, lay my head down, and fall fast asleep."

Carvin calls "In Walked Bud" a drummer's dream. But Bud ain't walkin' here, as the band fuels the fire lit by the leader in this all out burner.

Truly great drummers can show their power through sensitivity. On Bobby Hutcherson's "Same Shame," Carvin's flourishes gives the saxophonist loft and the pianist spiritual space to show why the leader sleeps so well.

The maturity on this gorgeous tune belies their two year existence. You can feel why Carvin, also an accomplished golfer, approaches a drive like a ballad.

Michael's  arrangement of "Night in Tunisia" has appeared on previous Carvin recordings. Still, it's a new night, with all flashing forward at a dizzying pace.

"You Go To My Head" gets inside yours, as this ballad breathes a sigh at every turn.

All of Carvin's drumming mastery is at work on "You Stepped Out Of A Dream," with sax, piano and bass free to look for theirs. The spaciousness of this rendition lets us in on a fascinating conversation.

Michael Carvin is one of the finest brushmen around, "Autumn Leaves" has a relaxed feel with plenty of room for the next idea, or next leaf to fall.

Flash Forward comes out on Motema August 19th. The Michael Carvin Experience celebrates the release  at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on August 25th. The master drummer is also part of this Fall's WBGO Kids' Concert Series on October 18th.

   - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

The music for this Radar features is no longer available. To preview and purchase, visit Amazon or iTunes.



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