Larry Blumenfeld
December 05, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Gardenias for Lady Day

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
James Carter

We gave it a B+

Occasionally, Carter — a master of all reeds — flashes so much skill, he loses a song’s sense. Not here. This Billie Holiday tribute offers sometimes lush, always thoughtful contexts in which he focuses on melody and story line. His overdubbed choir of baritone, tenor, and F-mezzo saxes swings mightily on ”I’m in a Lowdown Groove,” while ”Strange Fruit” achieves a stirring climax. And Greg Cohen’s tasteful strings form perfect springboards for Carter’s purposeful improvisations.

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