Motor City Rides

Jan 3, 2007 at 12:00 am
Detroit sax-marvel James Carter isn’t just one of the greatest instrumentalists from Detroit, he’s also its most dapper musician. (Well, by our estimation, it’d be a toss-up between Carter and Amp Fiddler.)


Carter picked up the sax when as an 11-year-old, studied with Marcus Belgrave and Donald Washington, and went on to master pretty much any reed instrument. It’s said that a 16-year-old Carter could pick up any instrument and play it within minutes.

At 19, he split Detroit for New York to play with Lester Bowie, and four years later he dropped his first record as a bandleader. Myriad records and recording appearances followed. His playing canvases styles from avant-garde to post-bop to funk to classical to gypsy jazz to the trailblazing indie band Pavement (last year’s Gold Sounds record consisted of Pavement covers — no shit).

When Carter comes home he rolls town in a ride that matches his suave élan — a black 1995 Lincoln Town Car, which he purchased new. “In New York City I grew accustomed to riding around in Lincoln Town Cars,” Carter says. “Ninety-five prcent of gypsy cabs in New York City are Town Cars. As of late I’ve grown more accustomed to driving one instead.” He pauses, and then he adds, “I handle it like it’s a Miata.”