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Saxman Jeremy Carter goes virtual for ‘Palladium Live!’

Bill DeYoung



Jeremy Carter. Photo: Steve Splane

For Jeremy Carter, Friday’s Palladium Live! virtual concert is just the latest development in the tenor sax player’s ongoing and evolving relationship with the Palladium Theater and its executive director Paul Wilborn.

Just about every show that Carter has played in the Side Door, the Palladium’s cozy downstairs club, has been a sellout. He credits Wilborn, along with Clearwater Jazz Holiday CEO Steve Weinberger, with giving him room to experiment and grow as a solo artist.

The Soul of Jazz couldn’t have come at a better time. And Carter is also to be a charter member of the Palladium’s Class of 2021, gifted a $2,500 stipend to create and perform a new show at the downtown St. Pete venue this year.

“The money’s important, during Covid,” Cater says, “but just to have that type of partnership, that backing and support, is just huge. And having somebody believe in your vision.”

Until a few years ago, Jeremy Carter didn’t much believe in his own vision. The Nebraska native had come to visit his retired parents in 2001, and the scheduled three weeks turned into a permanent residency.

He became a professional musician in 2005, and was making a pretty good living.

But something was off.

“For a long time, I was working with this wedding band,” Carter explains. “But I was kind of artistically stuck, for lack of a better word.

“And in 2017 I got in this horrific accident. I hit a stationary vehicle doing a little over 80 miles an hour on the Interstate. And six or seven weeks later I was in Mexico City doing probably the biggest gig of my life, playing with this band out of Argentina called Los Pericos for their DVD 3000 Vivos.

“I come back, I have knee surgery from my accident. And three or four weeks later, my father dies. And I’m going through all this … after all this time with the wedding band, I can’t be their little dancing monkey any more. I have life things that I’m focused on. I didn’t quit and I wasn’t fired.”

He prefers to call it an awakening. A catharsis.

“That band was great for me, financially,” he explains. “I made a lot of money. But artistically – spiritually – I was dying inside. So it was like a blessing in disguise.”

He finished another tour as a sideman, through Latin America … “and that’s when I began my journey as a leader.”

No more playing music that somebody else chose. No more playing arrangements he just didn’t dig.

At the Palladium, he assembled groups made up of the bay area’s finest jazz players and programmed tribute shows to the likes of John Coltrane and Michael Brecker. The Soul of Jazz debuted in 2018 with a mixed bag of jazz, rhythm ‘n’ blues and popular music.

“My focus wasn’t solely jazz,” Carter says. “It was like a perfect marriage.”

For Friday’s virtual show – performed without a live audience in the theater – he’ll be playing alongside guitar (LaRue Nickelson, bass (Elias Tona), drums (Luis Alicea) and two – count ‘em, two – keyboards (Stretch Bruyn and Nathan Mitchell). Carter has named them The Rubber Band.

“I branched out,” he says. “So I’m not necessarily playing jazz any more. I mean, I do – I enjoy it and I will still book a show playing jazz, but a lot of my focus now is more … I don’t even know what to call it. It’s not smooth jazz, it’s not funk, it’s not soul …

“It’s because of my own artistic hunger. I don’t want to just be playing the same standards, you know, ‘Let’s do it this way.’ That’s just not why I got into this. And there are so many things happening in my life. I feel like I have so much to say. And all this music genuinely touches me.”

Details and tickets here.

















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