High Times

Local multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney is well-versed in countless styles, from pop to jazz to experimental, but he can make beautiful music out of pretty much anything that makes sound. Though his primary axes are saxophones and clarinets, he also plays guitar, keyboards, flute, and more unusual devices like the saw and jaw harp. Such eclectic talent has led to a world-class resume, including collaborations with iconoclastic songwriter Tom Waits, boundary-busting filmmaker David Lynch, and the late Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. So what’s the tie that binds Carney’s wide-roving activity? He always brings the fun. And nowhere is this more evident than on Ralph Carney’s Serious Jass Project, a group that showcases the horn player’s affinity for the type of old-school jazz that makes you shout hallelujahs and dance in the aisles. We’re talking jumpin’ jive grooves and swing that zings, which is only serious inasmuch as the know-how that’s needed to pull off the tunes with such joyful abandon. The set list is largely drawn from Duke Ellington’s small combo songbook of the late ‘30s and R&B honker Big Jay McNeely’s wild-eyed tracks of the early ‘50s. Watch for when the leader busts out multiple horns at once, channeling big-band power with only four guys on stage.
Tue., Sept. 8, 8 p.m., 2009

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