Publication: All Music Guide
Author: Ken Dryden
Michael Carvin has been instrumental in developing the careers of other percussionists as a coach (his preferred term over teacher), but the veteran drummer has had infrequent opportunities to record as a leader during his long career. This Marsalis Music CD, Carvin’s first release in a decade, demonstrates his masterful musicianship, working with a trio of younger musicians who are obvious inspired by his playing. The sizzling introduction to “I’ll Remember April” avoids typical approaches, powered by the leader’s unusual percussive accents.
Carvin revamps “The Lamp Is Low” with a funky swagger, while he also builds the tension playing the famous vamp to “A Night in Tunisia” with bassist Dezron Douglas and pianist Carlton Holmes, before tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland makes his entrance to state its main theme. This quartet is especially impressive with its moody, somewhat spacy setup of “You Go to My Head,” hardly suggesting that the group will segue into a slow, romantic ballad set in waltz time. Producer Branford Marsalis makes a guest appearance on the “Prisoner of Love/Body and Soul” medley, though most of it is devoted to the latter standard. This outstanding date should prompt more frequent recording invitations to Michael Carvin.