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The pianist and composer Bill Carrothers plays without shoes. (The better to modulate the pedals.) He sits on a chair, not a piano bench. (It's lower.) He removes the front plate of a grand piano. (To hear himself better, of course.) He lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, one of the snowiest and most sparsely populated places in the United States; he once lived in the jazz mecca of New York, hated the way of life and fled as soon as he could.
But every so often, Carrothers emerges for long enough to play a few gigs somewhere in the world. And at them, it's readily apparent that the eccentric trappings have their own logic — as does his highly original playing. In three sets at the Monterey Jazz Festival's most intimate stage, the Coffee House Gallery, he called standards, originals and material associated with the Clifford Brown Quintet of the 1950s — reduced and modified for piano trio as in his 2010 album Joy Spring. Backed by first-call New York sidemen Drew Gress (bass) and Bill Stewart (drums), the ballads glowed, sometimes eerily so, and the burners swung unerringly, sometimes on a rampage. And in the second set, heard here, his soft touch and luminous chord voicings were especially ripe.
Credits: James Perdue, mix engineer. Paul Cain, assistant.