In a jazz world brimming with brilliant and adventurous pianists, Marc Cary stands apart by way of pedigree and design. None of his prestigious peer group ever set the groove behind the drums in Washington DC go-go bands nor are any others graduates of both Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln’s daunting bandstand academies. Cary remains one of the progenitors of contemporary jazz, evident in his influence on peers.
Live gigs with vibraphonist Stefon Harris and bandmate Casey Benjamin began the genesis of Robert Glasper’s recording Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and Cary’s record “Taiwa” from Focus in 2006 evolved into “For You” on Glasper’s Double Booked and Harris’ Urbanus. Cary collaborator Roy Hargrove exalted him with “Caryisms” on 1992’s The Vibe, an album whose title track is one of two Cary originals including “Running Out of Time”–now part of the lexicon of live repertoire among jazz stalwarts Hargrove, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Igmar Thomas’ Revive Big Band.
As New York Times jazz critic Nate Chinen observed recently, “There isn’t much in the modern-jazz-musician tool kit that Marc Cary hasn’t mastered, but he has a particular subspecialty in the area of groove…with a range of rhythmic strategies, from a deep-house pulse to a swinging churn.” Mr. Cary richly embodies the spirit of diverse streams that feed into the ample body of what we consider jazz history today.
Marc Cary will be performing in Detroit on Saturday April 29th as part of the Ben Williams Showcase that includes a tribute to Detroit’s own Rodney Whitaker