It started out as just a few friends having fun making music together but grew into a recording project that to date has placed three singles on the Billboard chart with a fourth, “State of Mine,” certain to follow suit, in part due to the distinctive rhythmic riffing of Grammy-winning guitar legend Nile Rodgers. Bassist Allen Carman shelved his music aspirations twenty years ago only to rekindle them after reconnecting with percussionist Gumbi Ortiz and keyboardist Philippe Saisse a couple years ago. Joined by drummer Luis Alicea, the quartet became The Allen Carman Project, a band scrapbooking contemporary jazz, R&B, Latin, Afro Cuban, funk and fusion with a bolt of added star power from prominent soloists: Rodgers, saxophonist Andy Snitzer, trumpeter Rick Braun and guitarist Marc Antoine. In the process, the “Carmanology” album, produced by Ortiz and Saisse and featuring eight original songs, introduces the sound of an exciting and creative collaborative that will drop their debut disc April 5 on the ACP Music label.
When Ortiz convinced Carman to work on some new tracks with him and Saisse, expectations were modest. Saisse penned the premiere single “Groove Salad,” a nourishing blend of contemporary jazz tossed with generous servings of Snitzer’s zesty sax. The title track dropped next, defining the outfit’s sound palette as an inventive mix of future meets familiar on a cut that portrays a vividly-realized fantasy where kinetic go-go beats and horn-powered funk coexist with vibrant jazz piano and sax theatrics. On the third single, Snitzer rampages through “Hearsay,” stirring a maelstrom amidst taunting bass, cascading rhythms and exuberant harmonies. Fourth up, Braun’s muted trumpet lends atmospheric elements to “Morning After” while Snitzer’s bellowing saxophone testifies in emphatic support of Carman’s elastic basslines and Saisse’s rapturous keyboard vocalizations. Other highlights on the “Carmanology” collection include the breezy Latin-jazz oeuvre “Carisma” on which Antoine’s nylon guitar leads the exotic exploration; a sprawling aural adventure through “El Fanfaron” boosted by Carman’s boundless bass, Ortiz’s exhilarating percussion attack and the combustive horns of Don Harris and Bill Harris; and just when you think you’ve got the band’s sonic trajectory figured out, they augment “Bodega” with Evan Garr’s mind-blowing electric violin.
“When Gumbi and I started talking about making a record, I was super excited. My only expectation was to make a great record with great musicians. This album has far exceeded those expectations. It has always been a dream of mine to make a record with top-quality musicians and good songs. I put that dream on hold many moons ago when I joined the ‘civilian’ world and became a lawyer. However, I always felt like a musician first and a lawyer second. I never gave up on my passion to play,” said Carman, a South Jersey native who first met Ortiz in the mid-80s on the Tampa music scene when they played in local bands.
Ortiz, Saisse and Alicea established their chemistry years ago while backing guitar great Al Di Meola. Garr was also part of that band. Before deciding to go to law school, Carman toured extensively, performing with an array of artists. He’s looking forward to touring with The Allen Carman Project during a spring trek in support of the record release.
“I can’t wait to get out on the road with these fabulous musicians and play for live audiences. It will be magical.”
“Carmanology” contains the following songs:
“State of Mine”
For more information, please visit https://theallencarmanproject.com.