at almost the same moment asKen Burns's troubled Jazz documentary was kicking off on PBS Monday, reedman Daniel Carter was launching into a 45-minute improvisation at the Cameron House. You couldn't ask for two more conflicting views of jazz music today.If Burns's backward-looking film ran for 60 hours, it's still unlikely that Carter would be featured. The New York horn heavyweight plays at the creative edge of jazz, filling Manhattan's subway stations with the explosive quartet Test and locking into deep four-way conversations with the redoubtable ensemble Other Dimensions In Music. Wynton Marsalis surely wouldn't approve.
For his brief stopover in Toronto as part of the Cameron's Improviser's Pool series, Carter was joined by local trio Roundhouse, and despite looking more like a construction worker in his multiple flannel shirts and heavy boots than a free jazz titan, he set the tone early on.
As the quartet's tentative playing became more confident, Carter began to subtly play with the tone, switching between trumpet, clarinet, flute, tenor and alto saxophone, all within the first piece. When the spirit caught him, he'd start swaying fiercely or drop his horns entirely to dance and clap along.
Despite the fact that it was only their second show with Carter, Roundhouse seemed a perfect fit, occasionally creating a flurry of noise but largely keeping things introspective. Watson Jenosen snaked in and out of Carter's space with forceful soprano sax lines, and Mark Hundevad added textures on vibes and percussion, but the real centrepiece of the group was bassist Jason Hammer.
He seemed to be everywhere at once, playing his entire instrument and never repeating himself. His energetic playing was a perfect foil for Carter's wide-open improv. No wonder the sax man was smiling.MATT GALLOWAYDANIEL CARTER at the Cameron House, January 8. Tickets: $5. Attendance: 25. Rating: NNNNCrucial Carter