Guitarist Kenny Carr released his newest album “Departure” in the fall of 2018. A veteran player with decades of experience, Carr showcases his gift for bold, yet nuanced playing on “Departure.” At times the sound elements on the album sound like rock ‘n’ roll, and other times, they have the feel of old school soul. Carr’s musical past might have something to do with that. About Kenny Carr That most musicians begin playing music at an early age typically surprises no one. But Carr’s development as a musician began with deciding early on to take up an instrument that would represent his life’s work. Carr began playing the violin at age 9, but by 11, he had switched to guitar and became committed to it. In his early teens in Santa Cruz, California, Carr studied jazz theory with Rob Lautz and trumpeter Ray Brown. Carr benefited from forging friendships with musicians that he played with. By age 16, Carr was playing in local jazz venues with various types of musicians, from drummers like Kenny Wollesen and Jeff Ballard, to bassist Anders Swanson and saxophonist Donny McCaslin. In 1981, Carr and his circle of Santa Cruz players were invited to play the Mount Tamalpais jazz festival to open for Carmen McRae and Freddie Hubbard. The event served as a springboard for the guitarist’s career. A California native, Carr attended Berklee School of Music in Boston. During his senior year, the guitarist was offered a chance to audition for the legendary Ray Charles. Things must have gone well–Carr remained the performer’s guitarist for a decade. In addition, he also played lead guitar on Charles’ albums “Just Between Us” and “Live at Montreux.” After Charles’ passing, Carr remained an active professional musician. He served as musical director for a contemporary and jazz music ensemble. Carr also played in the ensemble, which is located in the mid-Atlantic. There was no shortage of opportunities for Carr to hone his playing skills. From public, private and protocol venues, the guitarist found himself in-demand, and still managed to amass his own body of work. Starting in 2005 with “Friday at Five,” Carr began to create a distinctive discography. The trend continues with “Departure.” “Departure” by Kenny Carr: sound and experience The opening track and the title song offer a good overview of Carr’s approach to putting sound elements together. There is an engaging use of saxophone motifs that complement the guitar work in each song. Carr’s showcases (which might be the wrong word for what he does) meld into the arrangement of the songs. This allows audiences to appreciate the sound of the instrument without being overwhelmed by the idea that a guitar is in the forefront of the soundscape. “Intervals” opens the album and orients listeners to Carr’s approach. The fast, paired notes of the saxophone and drums seem to have a conversation to which the guitar adds itself subtly. Then, a call and response motif happens in which a “bomp” of saxophone, bass and drums play staccato notes at once. Just when audiences are used to this, a more free-flowing motif shows up. At the end, the familiar motif returns, lighter, until the song ends. The moody opening to the title track makes good use of softer aspects of the instrumentation. The saxophone sings softly, and the guitar nimbly stacks notes almost to the stratosphere – – but played softly, the effect is anything but strident. A soft echo effect draws out the sound of the guitar. The drums shimmer behind the saxophone’s lonely sound. There is a hint of slowed down, bluesy soul. The overall effect is dizzying in a way that allows audiences to lose themselves. On “Departure,” Carr plays both guitar and synthesizer. His talent for mood-making and finding the best elements of all instruments involved are present here. “Departure” is not easy listening, but listening to it is time well-spent. Napcloud” - Dodie Miller-Gould

— Lemon Wire

Kenny Carr: Departure Guitarist Kenny Carr brings together a mix of swing and rock with Donny McCaslin/ts, Kenny Wollesen/dr and Has Glawischnig on this collection of ten originals. The two front line of McCaslin with the leader makes for some great unison themes as they canter on the post bop “Intervals” and groove hard on the funky AWB-ish “Waiting,” building up to a dramatic finish on “Evolutions. Carr’s guitar is thick and able to get funky on the Fabulous Flamer “Tell Me I Can’t” and with some synth addition to his ax creates rich scapes on the rocking  “Bear Call.” The more  placid “Departure” has a soft conversation between McCaslin, Carr and Glawishnig” and the team gets pretty as they waltz through an impressionistic “Parallels.” If this band tours, go check them out! ” - George W. Harris

Jazzweekly

  Grady Harp November 3, 2018 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Ever new and ever fresh! Followers of classically trained New York guitarist Kenny Carr will be rewarded handsomely with this new recording of Carr’s original music. Carr attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. In his final year he got the call to audition for Ray Charles. Carr toured worldwide with Charles for 10 years. Carr began playing violin at age nine but by eleven he realized his true passion was the guitar. Carr grew up in Santa Cruz, CA; its inspiring natural beauty set the stage for Kenny’s musical career. By his early teens, he was studying jazz theory with vibraphonist Rob Lautz and renowned trumpeter Ray Brown. This sensitivity for classical instruction and jazz improvisation makes Kenny Carr’s music indelible – once experienced.The ensemble is Kenny Carr - Guitars, Synthesizers, Donny McCaslin – Saxophone, Kenny Wollesen - Drums, Percussion, and Hans Glawischnig – Bass.The tracks are Intervals, Time Change, Tell Me I Can’t, Warmth, D&P, Evolutions, Departure, Waiting, Bear Call, and Parallels. ” - Grady Harp

— Amazon.com

  Guitarist Kenny Carr has enjoyed a varied career.  Carr attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. In his final year he got the call to audition for Ray Charles. Carr toured worldwide with Charles for 10 years and played lead guitar for Charles’ recordings Just Between Us and Live at Montreux. After Charles passing Carr has enjoyed a steady release of his own leader releases.  Now embarking on his sixth leader release, Carr steps forward with release that catapults his sound forward with Departure. The album begins with the smartly developed “Intervals,” Carr quickly demonstrates that he is a musical and exciting composer, as well as a performer. “Intervals” melody is performed by Carr and McCaslin with strategic band hits that add excitement. The bridge finds Wollesen, Glawischnig and Carr laying down a quick waltz time feel as McCaslin’s robust saxophone takes the lead. McCaslin’s solo starts at a controlled percolation as he effortlessly spins out melodies. The chemistry between McCaslin and Carr is evident, the manner in which the two interact during McCaslin’s solo, with Carr’s energetic chordal figure contribution to McCaslin’s fiery solo statement is galvanized. Carr begins his solo with double stops that segues into bopish chromatic embellished melodies. The solo has shape and a strong sense of time and increasing excitement. “Tell Me I Can’t” is a colorful demonstration of Carr’s fusion chops. Beginning with a rhythmically interesting funk groove figure that the melody is developed over, this tune has very deep pockets! Carr’s balanced activity with more flowing melodic statements through the form offers a dynamic listen. The background chords from Carr’s guitar synthesizer is subtle and supportive in both color and function. For Carr’s solo, he presents a warmly distorted guitar tone the still maintains clarity but delivers an aggressive tone. Carr develops multiple rhythmic motifs, building the energy with each phrase. McCaslin turns in an exceedingly expressive ride with lots of interesting sounds and upper register screams. The band is very connected, with each member performing beautifully. Carr takes another ride and digs in even harder with an impressive display of technique and musicality. At times Carr is so skilled you forget the amount of technical prowess your ears are experiencing. His music offers a complexity that is so musical that with each listen new surprises unfold.  What sets Departure apart from so many albums out there that serve up a succession of hard blowing, is the subtleties.  Many times, young musicians miss this part of the soulful musicality.  I am sure 10 years on the bandstand with Charles instilled this in Carr’s bones.  He strides right alongside any guitarist in the upper echelon these days, but it is in the details of his rhythm that takes him to the next level.  Departure is a highly recommended listen.” - Ferell Aubre

The Jazz Word

Carr has enjoyed a fruitful career building his own discography of titles as a leader including: Friday at Five (TAS, 2005), Turn the Page (TAS, 2006), Changing Tide (TAS, 2007), Idle Talk (Zoozazz, 2014), Exit Moon (Zoozazz, 2015) and now Departure. On his latest offering Carr is joined by two childhood friends Donny McCaslin on saxophone and Kenny Wollesen on drums and percussion. Also joining the lineup is bassist ans Hans Glawischnig who Carr has had the pleasure of working with on previous projects. "Intervals" captures Carr and McCaslin playing the main theme together, while the rhythm section invokes hits to strengthen and support the melody. Carr and McCaslin sound as one and it is obvious that the two have played together for a long time. The bridge is a groove laden waltz feel. That same feel is used for the solo sections, starting with McCaslin. His soloing style is modern with a clear sense of melodic direction. The band is supportive and pushes McCaslin in all the right places. Carr's solo is just as exciting, his tone is full-bodied and acoustic in nature. The melodies have a bebop sound with Carr's use of chromatic embellishments, but he also uses modern sounds like pentatonic and intervallic shapes. Carr also has a sense of the blues and soul in his playing, which always adds depth to a player's rhythm and timing.  Evolutions" finds Carr using a guitar synth to get his melody tone. His tone is very close to Pat Metheny's synth tone. The melody is flowing and Wollesen's drum work behind Carr is energetic and building. The harmonic progression is interesting, as the melody is taken through the changes. Carr builds his solos methodically and uses the sustain of the synth to achieve sounds that would decay without the sustain of the synth. The upper register cuts through the mix and the lower riffs growl with sonority as Carr shapes his solo into waves of ascending arches that form melodic phrases. "Evolutions" is an interesting look into Carr's improvisational vocabulary, which is vast, steeped in melodism and chalk-full of strong musical statements through the shape and texture of the lines. On Carr's sixth leader release, he once again solidifies himself as a seasoned veteran who exhibits prowess and technique with a deep sense of groove and agile technique. He has the type of rhythm string players strive for in jazz. His years with Charles were a breeding ground for his deeply felt sense of rhythm. This is what sets jazz guitarist apart. The guitar has an inherit country rhythm to it; and guitarists have to work very hard to get that unique sense of modern swing. Carr is a modernist with a touch of rock smattered in for good measure. On Departure Carr emerges as a fully-fledged and highly capable guitarist, and with the addition of a stellar cast of players his sixth album is a strong statement.” - Geannie Reid

All about Jazz

Everybody here's heard of hard rock, but I wonder...is there such a thing as hard jazz? I'm not talking about a hard rock/jazz hybrid--I'm talking about jazz played with same power, the same sense of scale and drama of your typical hard rock band. I'm talking about tight song structures fortified with a Spector-esque wall of sound, you know, a slow build and an explosive climax. I wondered this, almost aloud, the first time I heard guitarist Kenny Carr's Departure. This is jazz through and through, but the way he and his band rip through these original compositions, you might think they all started a rock band decades ago and then suddenly decided that jazz was more worthy of their efforts and this was Day One.Carr did start off in a different guitar genre, but it was classical music. He's been known for his distinctive blend of jazz, blues and fusion for many years--this is his sixth album--but I can't hear a lick of classical guitar anywhere. Carr has rock in his blood, it seems; it's in the way he stretches out notes during his solos and the way he carefully sets the mood with his riffs. You hear it when his quartet--which also includes bassist Hans Glawischnig, drummer Kenny Wollesen and sax player Donny McCaslin--really starts to push the dense momentum toward the ends of songs. It doesn't even have to be loud or thunderous, since the quiet moments are as plentiful as the maelstroms. There's just a sensibility here, one that may appeal to you if you're a bigger fan or rock than jazz. Let me clarify: this doesn't sound just like rock and roll. That's not what I'm saying. But there are structures underneath it all, an energy that really isn't that common in jazz. Rock was so controversial during its infancy because the rhythms were almost sexual--it certainly reminded too many of its critics of that, anyway. That same tension floats in Carr's music, that tightness that binds the music into a more manageable whole. Jazz is so often about being loose, about having the space to explore. While Departure contains a wealth of jazz solos--McCaslin's are stunning in the way he angrily manipulates his mouthpiece--it's just so propulsive. Perhaps this is why Carr gave this album the title that he did.When I look at what I've just written, I can almost hear the voices in my head asking me if I'm merely describing fusion jazz in its purest form. That might be the case, objectively, but that's not what I'm feeling. This is either a rock band exploring jazz or it's a jazz ensemble exploring rock, albeit in a very subtle way. The more you listen to Departure, the more you feel it. This is jazz that will make you "rock out.”

The Vinyl Anachronist

CD Review: Kenny Carr - Departure Kenny Carr (guitars, synthesisers); Donny McCaslin (tenor sax); Kenny Wollesen (drums, percussion); Hans Glawischnig (bass). (Review by Max Goodall). Departure is Kenny Carr’s sixth LP as a leader and the second in a row with this line-up. Having spent the early part of his career as lead guitarist in the Ray Charles live band, Carr seems to have manoeuvred himself slightly since Charles’ passing, spending a greater amount of time in more traditional jazz contexts.  Despite this, his style still retains the rocky, bluesy, accessible elements of Ray Charles’ music which enabled his incredible worldwide success. These are strong particularly in the ostinato and riff-driven tunes which periodically appear throughout Departure, such as Tell Me I Can’t, and D&P. At times, these simpler harmonic frameworks are highly successful. For example, on the album’s sixth track Evolutions; the uncomplicated undulations between chord one and chord four in the solo section acting as a perfect frame for Carr and Donny McCaslin’s (tenor saxophone) improvisations. The harder end of this scale though is also felt on tunes such as Time Change. Here the frequent returns to the opening ¾ ostinato almost begin to verge on monotony. Carr’s guitar playing throughout the record also bears out his influence from Charles. He draws on two distinct sounds, an effect driven and distortion-heavy tone (heard on tunes such as Tell me I Can’t, D&P and Bear Call) and a more percussive, traditional jazz tone (which appears on Warmth, Departure and Parallels). I must express a personal preference for the latter, which I feel contains so much more depth and weight, giving Carr’s melodic lines substance. Moreover, at times Carr’s distortion driven sound becomes jarring alongside the acoustic timbre of the rest of the band – particularly noticeable on D&P. Although, the problem is sometimes addressed by Carr’s original introduction of synths into the album’s sound world which, on tracks such as Evolutions, create a nice blend between the styles. The album’s best moments come in Carr’s more relaxed, thoughtful compositions. The opening of Warmth features some really lovely ideas, as does the title track, and the closer, Parallels. Their gentle chord sequences lead you down a path, which Carr and McCaslin tread admirably, with a feeling of movement, rather than just cycling through a short idea over and over. These tunes also feature some lovely textural ideas, particularly Carr’s chordal melodies, often with McCaslin floating above. A mention should also be given to Hans Glawischnig on bass, who solos well whenever given an opportunity, such as an on the eighth track Waiting. Overall, this is a sweet album, with some great moments. While I’m not always convinced by some of its harsher and louder tracks, the lighter side to Kenny Carr’s compositions are infectious, mysterious, and at their best really quite beautiful. Max G. Departure was released on Zoozazz Music on Nov. 1. ” - Max Goodall

— Be bop spoken here

Kenny Carr: “Departure” (2018) CD Review Kenny Carr is a talented guitarist based in New York. You might know him from his work with Ray Charles (you can hear his playing on Just Between Us and see him on the DVD Live At Montreux 1997). Since Ray Charles’ death, Kenny Carr has been enjoying a solo career, featuring his own compositions. His most recent album, Departure, contains all original material, with Carr playing both guitar and guitar synthesizers. Joining the guitarist on this release are Donny McCaslin on saxophone, Hans Glawischnig on bass, and Kenny Wollesen on drums. The CD opens with “Intervals,” creating this delicious alternate reality, where the entire world is a cool, exciting city, pulsing with music and desire and joy, with the saxophone flying around above us, and the bass inviting us to some specific magnetic establishment, where the guitar can then intoxicate us, so we reach that point where everyone else already seems to be, all the while the drums keeping us moving. What a wonderful track to get things going. It’s followed by “Time Change,” which has a slightly darker, more serious tone at the start. But there is still movement here, the world sliding beneath us, as the sax seems to tell us to climb above so that we can better see what’s happening on the ground. This is exciting music, keeping us on our toes, unsure what is around the corner; the pulse quickens, with the tune’s rhythm, and soon we are all situated on some new plateau, almost without being aware of the entire climb. And, hey, things are good up here. “Tell Me I Can’t” begins with a strong, funky bass line that I love. It holds everything together, and keeps us propelling forward into some delightful realm. While the bass grooves, the guitar then dances above it. This is one to get your entire body moving. It is fun, with some wonderful stuff on saxophone. Toward the end, the guitar seems to rise like giant flowers bursting through concrete, changing the landscape. Things then mellow out a bit for “Warmth,” which has a more romantic bent at the beginning. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be some interesting and exciting work on guitar. Plus, this track features a cool lead on bass. Yeah, the track may begin in a mellower place, but it certainly does not remain tame or restrained. As it approaches its climax, it gets wild, especially the saxophone. That’s followed by “D&P,” which has a delicious groove featuring more wonderful work on bass and some great stuff on drums. The saxophone seems to sing joyously above that great beat, moving and breathing, like some large, wondrous electric animal weaving its way among skyscrapers and dodging meteorites. “Departure,” the album’s title track, is a mellower tune with something of a romantic feel. The guitar has a dreamlike quality at times, making you wish it could just carry you away into the night. When “Bear Call” begins, it has almost a progressive rock sound, in that brief moment before the sax comes in. The sax then takes it to a different level. I really dig the drums on this track. This one at times brings to mind a busy street, with the hustle and activity and energy. The disc then concludes with “Parallels,” which has kind of a light vibe at the start. It becomes a good jam, with plenty of nice stuff on guitar and a cool bass lead a little more than halfway through. CD Track List Intervals Time Change Tell Me I Can’t Warmth D&P Evolutions Departure Waiting Bear Call Parallels  Departure was released on November 1, 2018. ” - MICHAEL DOHERTY

MICHAEL DOHERTY'S MUSIC LOG

The opening track and the title song offer a good overview of Carr’s approach to putting sound elements together. There is an engaging use of saxophone motifs that complement the guitar work in each song. Carr’s showcases (which might be the wrong word for what he does) meld into the arrangement of the songs. This allows audiences to appreciate the sound of t The opening track and the title song offer a good overview of Carr’s approach to putting sound elements together. There is an engaging use of saxophone motifs that complement the guitar work in each song. Carr’s showcases (which might be the wrong word for what he does) meld into the arrangement of the songs. This allows audiences to appreciate the sound of the instrument without being overwhelmed by the idea that a guitar is in the forefront of the soundscape. “Intervals” opens the album and orients listeners to Carr’s approach. The fast, paired notes of the saxophone and drums seem to have a conversation to which the guitar adds itself subtly. Then, a call and response motif happens in which a “bomp” of saxophone, bass and drums play staccato notes at once. Just when audiences are used to this, a more free-flowing motif shows up. At the end, the familiar motif returns, lighter, until the song ends. The moody opening to the title track makes good use of softer aspects of the instrumentation. The saxophone sings softly, and the guitar nimbly stacks notes almost to the stratosphere – – but played softly, the effect is anything but strident. A soft echo effect draws out the sound of the guitar. The drums shimmer behind the saxophone’s lonely sound. There is a hint of slowed down, bluesy soul. The overall effect is dizzying in a way that allows audiences to lose themselves. On “Departure,” Carr plays both guitar and synthesizer. His talent for mood-making and finding the best elements of all instruments involved are present here. “Departure” is not easy listening, but listening to it is time well-spent.” - Dodie Miller-Gould

Lemon-Wire

  KENNY CARR/Departure:  Ray Charles’ long time guitarist reconvenes the crew of top contemporary cats he had on board last time for another set of high octane contemporary jazz that hit’s the spot.  More than atmospheric, background stuff, this is an active listening date that you can relegate to the background at your own risk.  Original and inventive, there’s still plenty left to say that hasn’t been musically said as this set shows with firm authenticity.  Hot stuff.​  ”
Review:  Kenny Carr is a gifted musician, composer and arranger and a graduate of Berklee College of Music.  He began his career as part of the band supporting Ray Charles, and spent 10 years working with the legend.  Since then, he has gone on to make his own music.  Departure is his sixth studio album, and stands on its own as one of the best jazz recordings in recent year Recommendation: Definitely Get this one if you are a jazz fan.  It is a premier addition to your collection.  ”

— la music critic blog