Tonight the Odean Pope Saxophone Choir features James Carter. Carter is a powerhouse musician and one of the most admired saxophonists of his generation, mastering a family of reed instruments from sopranino to contrabass saxophones to contrabass and bass clarinets. James Carter mesmerized the jazz world after arriving in New York City in 1988 to play under the auspices of Lester Bowie.
The Odean Pope Saxophone Choir was established by Odean in 1977 and premiered in 1985 with a Soul Note album called “The Saxophone Shop.” The saxophone choir has been the realization of his southern legacy; a medium for creating the richly textured harmonic sound that has permeated his musical soul since childhood. He constructs layers of melodic sound by playing within the fourth system in different tone scales. The choir reaches a stunning intensity that is simultaneously one voice and is also, as described by Francis Davis, “harmonically engorged.”
Odean grew up in jazz rich territory with other Philadelphia notables such as: John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, Benny Golson, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy and Percy Heath et al. Coltrane chose Odean to replace him in Jimmy Smith's Group when he left for New York to join Miles Davis. Although he was close to Coltrane and continues to revere his artistry, Odean was always searching for his own musical sound. This led him to study with Ron Rubin, the principal woodwind player in the Philadelphia Orchestra. At a later time he studied at The Paris Conservatory for Music under Kenny Clarke. It was there that he received his Certificate in Orchestration, Modern harmony, African rhythms, Be-Bop Art Forms and Arrangement. In 1979, Odean joined the Max Roach Quartet as a regular member for more than two decades. It was as the tenor man with Max Roach that Odean perfected the techniques of circular breathing and multiphonics, both allowing him to stretch his solo improvisations from dazzling elevations to the throbbing, husky sounds for which he is so well known, to all kinds of delicacy in getting from one to the other. Odean won acclaim from Australia to Japan, even winning "Best Tenor Saxophone Player" at the North Sea Jazz Festival.
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