Bryan Carter, I Believe Review
by Nolan DeBuke
Bryan Carter is an artist of many disciplines. When Carter is not busy working in the realms of film, television, and Broadway, he can be found touring the world with his band, Bryan Carter & The Swangers, or with its larger counterpart, The Swangers Orchestra. Carter served as the drummer for NBC’S Maya & Marty and the classic television program Sesame Street. Most recently, he served as co-orchestrator for Broadway’s Some Like It Hot—a new musical comedy based on the classic MGM film, with music by Marc Shaiman. I Believe is Carter’s semi-autobiographical, coming out and coming of age album that takes listeners on a journey of love and self-acceptance. Carter takes on the roles of arranger, drummer, orchestrator, percussionist, producer, synthesizer, and vocalist. Though his training at The Juilliard School was only recently completed, he has already performed with McCoy Tyner, Marcus Roberts, Kenny Barron, Michael Feinstein, and Kurt Elling.
“You and I” is the opening selection and defines how Carter and company set out to “create a tapestry,” in his words, with their wide palette of sounds. “I don’t see stories like this in jazz being told,” says Carter, “so I think it’s really, really important that we nail it and tell it the right way.” With a contemporary jazz meets R&B feel, the large ensemble has excellent orchestration and layers. With a full horn section and strings, the song has a fullness and energy of an augmented big band. Carter’s vocal style also pulls in elements of R&B; his control is spot-on, with exceptional vocal technique. Though his tone is light in his mid-range register, his enthusiasm pulls the melody to expressive heights.
“Crazy ‘Bout My Baby” is a fun light swing selection with excellent male/female vocal harmonies and ensemble writing. Carter and Martina DaSilva sound wonderful together as their timbres meld to form a rich, melodious buzz. The solos are excellent, and the band is swinging on this; this is true for the entire album; the band sounds great. This is a fun track from start to finish.
I Believe undoubtedly shows the many talents of Carter’s musical skills through many styles and feels. The writing is excellent, and the band is terrific. Though his vocal tone is more suited for cabaret and Broadway, his many talents set him apart from the crowded vocal field. Also, his talents as a composer, arranger, orchestrator, and drummer are wonderful. As he expands and builds his catalog throughout his many disciplines, Carter will be an artist to follow and enjoy.