Carter Calvert, Its a Man’s World

by Jeff Becker

Carter Calvert is a bonafide vocalist – I say vocalist vs. jazz singer because there is pretty much nothing Calvert cannot sing.  Carter Calvert comes from a varied background of multi-principals, which is what makes this dynamic artist much more than your garden variety singer; she is a seasoned live performer and a dynamo in the recording setting. Calvert is a true vocalist, able to traverse any genre with skill and execution, but her heart and soul resides with jazz. Calvert has also enjoyed critical acclaim performing the title role in Always…Patsy Cline, starring opposite Emmy® award-winning actress Sally Struthers. She has captivated audiences across the United States recreating the music of this beloved American icon. Often reviewed for her six-star smoldering voice, Calvert is best known for originating her role in the Tony®-nominated Broadway musical It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues, alongside Grammy® winning jazz vocalist Gregory Porter. Calvert has also enjoyed opening for iconic performers including: Marilyn McCoo, Chubby Checker and The Temptations.
So now that you get the picture, what about the music.  That is where the greatness begins.  Her follow up recording to her debut entitled Carter Calvert and the Roger Cohen Trio, brings in a couple of jazz heavy hitters, Grammy® award-winning Ulysses Owens, Jr. (Producer/Drums) and Grammy® award-winning Laurence Hobgood(Arranger/Piano), the team takes hits originally made famous by iconic male artists, re-imagined and sung from a woman’s point of view. The result It’s A Man’s World, yet somehow it feels much more like a powerfully placed woman’s world and rightly so – the arrangements are smart, they offer a sensitivity when needed and a jazz muscularity when called for. Calvert is what I call the sweet and spicy sauce on the well-balanced gourmet meal.  She is tasty, seasoned, and articulate and has an instrument in her voice that is un-matched, and I don’t say that lightly.  She is soulful; her blues is gritty, digs deep and is no more evident that on “I’m in the Mood.”  Jesus this woman has chops and is drippy with honey laced brown sugar that will tickle your cockles and delight your soul.  Whew, I am SOLD!
Modern jazz, well it’s here too – the title track “It’s a Man’s, Man’s Man’s World” arranged by Laurence Hobgood is what makes Hobgood stand head and shoulders above most vocal arrangers.  Some of Kurt Elling’s best arrangements were created by Hobgood, and that element shines through on this track like a beaming star.  Again, Carter’s voice is commanding – and your truly believe it ain’t nothing without a woman or a girl.   What is the salt of every GREAT vocalist is the way they treat a ballad, a spacious and open rendition accompanied by piano only of “Can You Be True,” displays the fragility that is most beautiful in Carter’s voice, rounding out the deep notes, tender on the top notes and the delicateness of her top notes take flight like an angel.
Carter Calvert is a powerfully potent vocalist, able to convey any style of song with the utmost of presence and execution from soulful blues, to agile modern jazz pieces to the most tender of ballads with every note exposed, she is masterful and poignant. Equal to the power and range of Celine Dion (yes, I know not jazz but anyone can certainly recognize a masterful vocalist in any genre), and the soulfulness of Koko Taylor, along with the ability to convey a ballad –  well – I have to say, she is truly in her own class of perfection.  Pick up a copy of It’s A Man’s World and see why I have flipped for this album so hard.