CULT CLASSIC: DOUG CARN FEATURING THE VOICE OF JEAN CARN-SPIRIT OF THE NEW LAND.
Cult Classic: Doug Carn Featuring The Voice Of Jean Carn-Spirit Of The New Land.
Doug Carn was one of the first artists that Gene Russell and Dick Schory signed when they founded Black Jazz Records in 1971. His debut solo album Infant Eyes was the nascent company’s third release and featured vocals from his wife Jean Carn. Infant Eyes was the most successful of the six albums the label released during 1971. Buoyed by this success the Doug and Jean Carn began work on the followup.
This was Spirit Of The New Land, which was released in 1972 and billed as Doug Carn Featuring The Voice Of Jean Carn. It was a new chapter in the story of Doug Carn who was still only twenty-for when he released Spirit Of The New Land.
Doug Carn was born on July the ’14th’ 1948, in St. Augustine, Florida, and growing up music was all around him and was part of the culture around him at home. His mother was a musician, while his uncle was a bebop DJ who could scat the Dexter Gordon solos. It was no surprise that growing up, Doug Carn started listening to jazz and later, decided to learn an instrument.
Initially, Doug Carn took piano lessons and proved to be a quick learner and was soon able to play Bach Two-Part Inventions. That was when it was discovered that he wasn’t reading music and playing by ear. This resulted in Doug Carn being given an alto saxophone which he also mastered was able to play well. Already he was well on his way to becoming a multi-instrumentalist and it was no surprise when Doug Carn decided to study music at university.
He enrolled at Jacksonville University in 1965, and for the next two years studied oboe and composition. When Doug Carn graduated in 1967 he headed to Georgia State University where he completed his musical education in 1969. Later that year he made his recording debut as bandleader.
The twenty-one year old multi-instrumentalist was still living in Georgia and had founded the Doug Carn Trio. However, the new combo needed gigs and the young bandleader decided to visit a friend who ran a booking agency. When he entered the office he was greeted by the receptionist and secretary who was also a singer. This was Jean Carn who later become his wife. Before that, she started singing with the Doug Carn Trio who were about to make their recording debut.
Through the owner of the booking agency, Doug Carn was introduced to Herman Lubinsky the founder and owner of Savoy Records. This introduction turned out to be a gamechanger for the bandleader.
It turned out that the label had a session booked in Atlanta which was going to be produced by Fred Mendelsohn, the President of Savoy. He explained that there was every chance that there might be some spare time after he had recorded the gospel album, and if there was, they would use the time to record the Doug Carn Trio. That turned out to be the case.
That day in 1969, the Doug Carn Trio recorded what became their eponymous debut album. It was released later in 1969 on Savoy Records but wasn’t a commercial success. However, for Doug Carn recording the album was an invaluable experience as he prepared to move to LA as the sixties gave way to the seventies.
When he arrived in LA, Doug Carn started spending time with the members of Earth, Wind and Fire and this resulted in him playing on their first two albums. He played Hammond organ on Earth, Wind and Fire which was released on February 1971 and was certified gold. Doug Carn also played on The Need Of Love which was released in November 1971. By then, his solo career was well underway.
Earlier in 1971, Doug Carn had signed to Black Jazz Records and recorded and released his debut album Infant Eyes which featured his wife Jean Carn’s vocal. Infant Eyes was the most successful of the six albums that the nascent label released during 1971. Buoyed by the success of his debut album Doug and Jean Carn began work on the followup Spirit Of The New Land.
For his second album for Black Jazz Records Doug Carn wrote Dwell Like A Ghost, My Spirit, Arise and Shine, Trance Dance and New Moon. He also covered Miles Davis’ Blue In Green and Lee Morgan’s Search For The New Land which he added lyrics too. These tracks became Spirit Of The New Land which was recorded with tight, talented and versatile band.
Recording of the album took place at Bell Studios, in New York, with Gene Russell taking charge of production. The band featured drummer Alphonse Mouzon, trombonist Garnett Brown, Earl McIntyre on tuba and Charles Tolliver played flugelhorn while George Harper switched between bass clarinet, flute and soprano saxophone. Jean Carn added vocals and Doug Carn played Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ and piano on Spirit Of The New Land.
When Spirit Of The New Land was released later in 1972, the album was billed as Doug Carn Featuring The Voice Of Jean Carn. For the first time, the Carn’s received equal billing on an album that was well received by critics and became Black Jazz Records’ best selling album of 1972.
That was no surprise given the standard of music on Spirit Of The New Land. It showcased the songwriting and keyboard skills of Doug Carn and provided a platform for Jean Carn’s impressive five octave vocal which breathes life, meaning and emotion into the lyrics on what was an eclectic album. There were elements of jazz, funk and soul as well as jazz-funk, free jazz, fusion and soul-jazz on the seven tracks on Spirit Of The New Land.
It opens with the dramatic and atmospheric Dwell Like A Ghost where Jean Carn’s five octave vocal soars high above the arrangement as drums pound and power the arrangement along. This adds to the drama. Meanwhile, Doug Carn interjects and eerie, otherworldly sounds combine with free jazz horns on this ambitious genre-melting album opener.
Jean Carn’s vocal is soulful and impassioned as a shimmering Fender Rhodes combines with wailing horns and thunderous, pounding drums. Briefly, the arrangement becomes understated and the urgent vocal enters as the arrangement to this ten minute epic rebuilds and reveals its secrets. This includes a breathtaking saxophone solo which is accompanied by the Fender Rhodes and drums. Soon, the baton passes to the trombone before bandleader Doug Carn unleashes a fleet-fingered solo. His fingers dart across the keyboard and along with Jean Carn whose vocal heads in the direction of spiritual jazz he plays a leading role in the sound and success of this jazz opus. It also features elements of jazz-funk and fusion and is one of the album’s highlights.
Sharp bursts of horns open Arise and Shine before Jean Carn’s joyous, jazzy vocal enters and she delivers lyrics full of social comment. Her vocal is a mixture of power and passion and soars above the arrangement before being replaced by the soprano saxophone and then bass clarinet take centrestage. Meanwhile, the tight talented and versatile band match them every step of the way. This includes washes of Hammond organ and drummer Alphonse Mouzon who unleashes drums rolls and pounds the hi-hat. Soon, it’s time for Doug Carn’s blistering solo which heads in the direction of soul-jazz. It’s one of his finest and when Jean Carn returns she’s joined by the bass clarinet and delivers the spiritual lyrics as the arrangement swings and then some.
Blue In Green was written by Miles Davis and features lyrics written by Doug Carn. They’re delivered by Jean Carn on this beautiful ballad which has an understated arrangement that features a flute, Fender Rhodes and drums. A less is more approach is taken and this allow the vocal to shine. It’s without doubt Jean Carn’s finest on Search For The New Land.
Very different is Trance Dance which is best described as avant-garde jazz which also features elements of African music, fusion and even elements of free jazz, funk and soul-jazz. Soon the tempo is rising and Doug Carn and his band allow the opportunity to stretch their legs and showcase their considerable talents as genres melt into one.
Search For The New Land was written by Lee Morgan and features lyrics that were written by Doug Carn. From the opening bars, there’s a degree of drama as Jean Carn unleashes a powerhouse of a vocal. It’s impassioned as she delivers lyrics that are full of social comment and sometimes spiritual. Meanwhile, Doug Carn interjects hopefully and stabs at the piano as the bass clarinet soars above the arrangement. They prove a potent combination before the saxophone replaces the clarinet and goes toe-to-toe with the jangling piano which Doug Carn then pounds, jabs stabs and adds flamboyant flourishes as he takes centrestage. Soon, Jean Carn rejoins and adds an impassioned plea on this twelve minute opus that is the centrepiece of the album.
The piano led New Moon closes Spirit Of The New Land and joins forces with drums and bursts of quivering horns as the arrangement cascades and sometimes seems to race along. In doing so, it provides the perfect showcase for Doug Carn and his band who save one of their best performances for last.
When Spirit Of The New Land was released in 1972, it built on the success of Doug Carn’s debut solo album which was released in 1971. It was the most successful album that Black Jazz Records released that year, and so was Spirit Of The New Land. However, neither album sold tens of thousands of copies but both were successful for a small independent label. That was what Black Jazz Records was. It was also a label that had a vision.
Black Jazz Records that wanted “to promote the talents of young African American jazz musicians and singers.” Doug Carn was only twenty-four when he released Spirit Of The New Land and his was Jean Carn was twenty-five. They had created an album that was an alternative to what Gene Russell and Dick Schory referred to as old school jazz. Spirit Of The New Land was a very different and new type of jazz album and featured everything from avant-garde, free jazz, funk, jazz-funk, fusion, soul, soul-jazz and spiritual jazz. These genres were combined by Doug Carn and Jean Carn who unleashed her five octave vocal on Spirit Of The New Land which at the time was their finest hour and set the bar high for future albums.
Cult Classic: Doug Carn Featuring The Voice Of Jean Carn-Spirit Of The New Land.
- Posted in: Avant Garde ♦ Funk ♦ Jazz ♦ Jazz Funk ♦ Jazz Fusion ♦ Soul ♦ Soul Jazz
- Tagged: Alphonse Mouzon, Black Jazz Records., Charles Tolliver, Doug Carn, Doug Carn Featuring The Voice Of Jean Carn, Doug Carn Trio, Earl McIntyre, Earth Wind and Fire, Fred Mendelsohn, Garnett Brown, Gene Russell, George Harper, Herman Lubinsky, Infant Eyes, Jean Carn, Savoy Records, Spirit Of The New Land, The Need Of Love