marc cary
pianist, producer / composer

marc cary picture The Indigenous People's new CD Captured Live In Brazil (Jazzateria #20301-2) is the follow-up to two acclaimed Marc Cary CDs, Listen (Arabesque, 1997) and The Antidote (Arabesque, 1998) and is further proof of his unique jazz vision. His Indigenous People group mines the rich history of African diasporic music, from African folk melodies, Brazilian and Caribbean grooves to American jazz, funk and go-go rhythms. Cary states: "Our intention on this CD was to capture the spirit of our people and perpetuate their energy through our music." At times recalling flashes of electric Herbie Hancock, Weather Report and 60's and 70's excursions by musical trend-setters like Donald Byrd and Cannonball Adderly, Captured Live In Brazil is an expansive exploration of groove by the young keyboardist and bandleader, who shines on acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes and Moog. From the pensive, wide-open opener "Rain Dance" to the percussion-heavy "Indigenous People Pt. II", Cary's new group is with him every step of the way, surrounding him as a living, breathing musical organism.

Thirty-two year old Washington, DC-bred MARC CARY is one of the most inventive and unique keyboardists on the scene today. As a solo artist as well as through sideman work with Abbey Lincoln, Arthur Taylor and Betty Carter, Cary has consistently impressed critics and jazz listeners alike. Peter Watrous of the New York Times noted in 1995: "As a pianist, Mr. Cary is growing... he is onto something important." Tom Terrel of JazzTimes stated of Listen: "...this is one powerful harbinger of a jazz life to come." And K. Leander Williams of Time Out New York says: "...Cary's arrangements tend to be hefty and light at the same time, brimming with just the right amount of pop momentum and Caribbean percussion to float references to Monk, Mingus and even the relaxed karmic worldbeat of Pharoah Sanders." Captured Live In Brazil is Cary's fourth CD as a leader, and is a huge next step in his artistic maturation — both as composer and bandleader.

Jazz Fact Deserving Of Wider Recognition: Washington, D.C. is a veritable motherlode for innovative jazz pianists (think Duke Ellington, John Malachi, Shirley Horn). Today, the spirit of those that came before is alive and well in the halls of Duke Ellington School For The Arts. Proof positive of this postulation is pianist Marc Cary.

Although born in New York City (Jan.29, 1967), Marc experienced his formative years in Chocolate City. His parents are musician/artists (his father is a percussionist, his mother a cellist/painter who also crafts jewelry) who naturally nurtured young Marc's successive forays into cello, trumpet and drums. Indeed, the playing of instruments was an old family tradition. "My great-grandmother, Mae York Smith, used to play piano in theaters accompanying silent movies", recalls Marc. "She used to play duets with Eubie Blake they would switch up left hand / right hand. She lived to be 100 years old. My mother's father is a trumpet player, first cousin to Cootie Williams -- played in his band down South. Duke called him but he decided to stay and raise the family."

Like every young kid with an axe before him, Cary joined the HIgh Integrity Band & Show, one of DC's many Go-Go bands. Finding the drum & trumpet chairs already filled, he began to dabble in synths and Fender Rhodes. Showbiz can be a pretty elixir for a teenager -- he dropped out of high school at 16. As he slid into the Go-Go highlife, young Marc's descent was turned around by two guardian angels. "Eleanor Oxendine in Maryland one of my first rudimentary teachers, taught me how to read and gave me access to her studio," says Cary. "She eventually employed me to teach the kids. At RAP Inc. (DC community activist center) I met Daniel Witt, he hipped me to piano, I developed a real appreciation for it."

Now A young man with a mission , Cary quit the Go-Go and passed his exam to enter Duke Ellington School. Three years later, the now 20 high school grad was feeling New York. Finishing up post-grad studies with local heroes John Malachi and Calvin Jones, our man caught the first Greyhound outta town. "I came to the city at 21 with twenty dollars in my pocket -- now I have 40 bucks to my name," laughs Marc. "I hooked up with Beaver Harris and Mickey Bass." Impressed with their new friend's humble vibe and sneakily meditative piano swing, these two elders schooled and guided Cary through the underground. Soon, Arthur Taylor's Wailers and Betty Carter beckoned. Cary would tour and record with both (MR. AT and DROPPIN' THINGS, respectively). Working with these masters not only strengthened his chops, he found his center. "From AT I learned everything, life, his life, what to do what not to do -- always be prepared and get your money up front. From Betty, I learned 'Tight' -- how to be on top, the etiquette of being a musician."

Cary's education continues today in Abbey Lincoln's band. Of Lincoln, he says, "She's my mentor, one of my favorite persons. She teaches me you got to claim shit -- I've learned allot of music with her and how to personalize it, take it more serious. (check out Marc's accompaniment skills on Abbey's latest record, WHO USED TO DANCE)." -- JazzTimes, Tom Terrell

Marc Cary: Colossus of Rhodes

By Drew Wheeler CDNOW Senior Editor

Jazz In the 1970s, when jazz was picking itself up off the floor after being dealt a body blow from rock and roll, it was the Rhodes that pointed The Way. Produced at the time by musical instrument manufacturer Fender, the Rhodes electric piano added a whole new layer of hipness to jazz, with its glowing tones and spacy timbres. At the height of the keyboard's popularity, Fender even ran a print ad that featured caricatures of every pianist who was playing one: Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal, George Duke, Les McCann, Chick Corea -- the roster was endless and awe-inspiring. Pianist Marc Cary was still in grade school when the Rhodes ruled jazz piano, but he never forgot that sound, and his affection for it is borne out by his latest album, Rhodes Ahead, Vol. 1. "Something about the Rhodes seems to enchant a lot of people, whether they realize it or not," says Cary. "It's the sound -- that angelic kind of sound that it has, depending on how you tune it or EQ it. It saturated a lot of the music that people still listen to now. A lot of samples and stuff have that Rhodes in it somewhere. So people, unconsciously, love the Rhodes." On Rhodes Ahead, Cary plays not only Rhodes, but also its '70s contemporary in electronica, the Mini-Moog and its modified cousin, the Rogue Moog. He's accompanied chiefly by his bassist, Tarus Mateen, with the album's drums fairly evenly split between the live and programmed varieties. Cary lays down a sort of late-Miles groove for the sweetly spacey, Rhodes-borne theme "Transient Treasure Part 1." He embellishes the bouncy, disco-fied R&B tune "Inside Your Self (You'll Find Love)" with a twittering keyboard lick and deeply buried vocals, and suggests the sounds of an Arab marketplace carried over a distant AM station in "The Call," which creates a sort of Rhodes-inflected Deep Forest scenario. On "Saturn's Return," his raw, synthesized riffery combines with a hip-hop sensibility, bedecked with air-raid tones and frantic drum samples. Cary -- who's known on the underground dance-music scene as producer Marco Polo -- seems to blend historical Rhodes scholarship with latter-day sound-collage concepts. "I wanted to put the Rhodes into 2000, really," he says. "That was the whole point of doing it. It wasn't to go back; it was basically to say that Rhodes is here, man. And it's here now, and this is what can be done with it." "Something about the Rhodes seems to enchant a lot of people, whether they realize it or not." Cary's musical expressions have taken many forms in his career. In the early 1990s, the Washington, D.C.-raised pianist was taken under the wing of vocalist Betty Carter and later became accompanist and musical director for Abbey Lincoln. After gigs with Roy Hargrove and Arthur Taylor, Cary became a leader in his own right, releasing a series of well-wrought acoustic trio albums on the Enja, Arabesque, and Jazzateria labels. Additionally, Cary leads the Brazilian-based ensemble Indigenous People, which also features Mateen on bass. "That really is the ultimate band for me, because we can do the trio setting, I can do my solo stuff; I can do Indigenous; I can do Rhodes Ahead," he explains. "That band covers every aspect of what I'm doing. If I could perform only with that band, it would show the thread that goes through a lot of the music we hear nowadays, from Brazilian to Cuban to jazz to hip-hop to go-go. That band has the capability of doing that." Despite keeping so many irons in the fire -- traditional jazz, electronic jazz, dance music, world music, what have you -- Cary relishes the multiple personalities of his musical identity. "I'm not moving away from the tradition," he says with a laugh. "I'm expanding."


"Trillium" Jazzateria*JIA*20304 From the pages of the CMJ New Music Report, Issue: 656

Marc Cary is a nimble-fingered young pianist best known for his contemporary stylings, but listening to this album is like opening a time capsule from a bygone era. On Trillium, Cary delivers an acoustic piano workout full of energy and lyricism. Bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits - one of the hippest jazz rhythm sections in the business - work nimbly to keep Cary on his toes, making Trillium a document of a trio committed to giving its all to each spontaneous moment.

-James Lien CMJ March 6, 2000

Album Title: Trillium
Artist: Marc Cary
Michael G. Nastos REVIEW:

Pianist Cary continues on his freshness quest with this CD where he works mostly in a piano-bass-drums trio format. Three of the nine cuts feature flutist Yarbrough Charles Laws, as Cary explores his interpretations of lesser-known modern jazz, a bop evergreen, and several of his originals. Cary wrote the title track in collaboration with his able confrères, bassist Taurus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits. It's a loosely associated melody simmering in light jungle butter. "Moment of Love" sports beauteous, patient modality with a repeated motif to improvise off of, swung well by Waits, who closes the case with his coda. Mateen contributes "Blues for Haseeb," a Herbie Hancock-type basic bop, 12-bar swinger with a cute little melody. The trio interprets Duke Pearson's "Minor League" offering an insistent, throbbing, one-note bass line with Cary's piano -- quite a different arrangement from the original (check out Grant Green's version). The stone-cold bop flagwaver "Little Willie Leaps" starts with Cary solo, then the band merges together with the leader's Monk-ish phraseology as Waits trades fours with brushes. Abbey Lincoln's "My Love Is You" is a solo piano ballad, almost classical in nature. The flute tunes are the deep, free, and diffuse midnight-blue ballad "New Prospective" (sic, perspective?) and the delicate, early-morning dewy, sunrise waltz "Peacemaker" by Cary with heavy harmonic overtones. The band saves the best for last on "King Tut's Strut," combining Egyptian inferences with a New Orleans calypso rhythm patented by Ed Blackwell. The brilliant flute work of Laws inspires spectacular fervor and joyous intensity from the band on this truly outstanding track that must be heard. Cary is on a roll with some excellent recent recordings. His increasing confidence in his original approach to jazz piano becomes more evident as his discography swells. Highly recommended.


Press Quotes

Winner of the First Annual 2000 Billboard/BET "Best New Jazz Artist Award"!

Grammy Nominated for work with both Betty Carter & Abbey Lincoln

PICKED "... one of 25 for the future of Jazz!"

DownBeat "Cary has emerged as a provocative, high-octane pianist and bandleader." Gary Giddens, Village Voice

"Cary is one of only a few pianists to tackle the sound and percussion of Duke Ellington and Randy Weston". Peter Watrous, New York Times

"A Pianist who's adept at covering all the bases, who well understands the range of emotions..." - CD Reviews

"Going his own way and ready to lead" - New York Times

"Cary's arrangements tend to be hefty & light at the same time." - Massachusetts Daily

"Marc Cary has something all his own to contribute to the great tradition of jazz." - Russ Musto

"... portfolio is stuffed with heavy names and even heavier accomplishments." - JazzTimes

"Bold and beautiful, gracefully melodic and entrancingly percussive, …combines heights of meaning and depths of feeling in equal proportion." - CMJ Jazz

"...adaptable to a full range of moods and emotions." - Chicago Sun-Times

"...imagination and strong sense of rhythm and time." - The Record

"Cary had conviction when he played, and combined with his intelligence ... he is onto something important." - New York Times

"Indigenous People ... timeless, tribal & together!" - Jazzateria