Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

James Carter: Layin' in the Cut [Atlantic, 2000]
Never fear--the most gifted and broad-minded young jazzman on the set hasn't succumbed to the dreaded amplifier. Hooking up with Ornette bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Blood drummer G. Calvin Weston, heavy guitarist Jef Lee Johnson, and fleet guitarist Marc Ribot is just a way for him to make another record without his touring band, write heads while nobody's looking, pay respects to a strain straighter coreligionists disdain, and prove he can rock a little, quite possibly while finishing the crossword. Not that there's anything distracted or desultory about this funk, this blues, this Latin, this harmolodic fusion, this free jazz. But he sure does make them seem second nature. A