James Carter Conterco for Saxophones


The Concerto for Saxophones and Orchestra was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony for saxophonist James Carter from Roberto Sierra, marrying classical and jazz elements and showcasing Carter’s virtuosity. Premiered by the DSO and its music director, Neeme Järvi, in October of 2002 and reprised by them in 2003.

You read accounts of premieres 150 years ago where the audience clamored to have movements repeated. In your lifetime, did you ever witness such a thing — the reprise of a new work, on the spot? Neither did I, until Thursday night, when Carter and conductor Neeme Jarvi finally gave in to a storm that showed no signs of abating and recapped the last long stretch of Roberto Sierra’s brilliant “Concerto for Saxophones.”

In its wisdom, Universal Music Group’s EMARCY label felt the Concerto for Saxophones merited a much wider hearing and thus recorded the concerto in December 2009 in Warsaw, Poland with the Sinfonia Varsovia, Giancarlo Guerrero, conducting and James Carter as soloist. UMG will release the Concerto for Saxophones in April 2011 and will give added promotion to all live performances from the release of the CD through the end of the year.Read more in the Press section »

About James Carter

After Wynton Marsalis, no one caused more of an uproar than James Carter did when he appeared on the New York jazz scene from his native Detroit. Carter’s debut recording, JC on the Set, issued in Japan when he was only 23 and in the States a year later in 1993, was universally acclaimed as the finest debut by a saxophonist in decades. Carter plays both tenor and soprano sax in this four-movement work.Read more about James Carter »

About Roberto Sierra

For more than three decades the works of American composer Roberto Sierra have been part of the repertoire of many of the leading orchestras, ensembles and festivals in the USA and Europe.Visit Roberto Sierra website »

Solo sop & ten sax
Picc, 222, bs cl 2; 4330; timp, perc, drums, hp, pno; strings
Duration: ca 23′
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He is the complete musician, a technician with no apparent limits and a poet of deep sensibility. Indeed, Carter’s eloquent turn through the concerto’s balladlike slow movement drew an early ovation.

There were passages in the program, especially during pieces such as Joe Henderson’s “Recorda Me,” in which Carter played with a surprisingly soft and tender sound, his improvisations filled with subtle melodic paraphrases. At other times, he added an appealing, burry edge to his tone—the result calling up images, on soprano saxophone, of Sidney Bechet.