do you make a trio sound like a quartet? Well, one way to do it is put a
Novax eight-string guitar in the hands of Kelly McCarty. When not
actually playing like a guitarist, McCarty uses the instrument like he’s
playing organ chords while covering for the bass. It’s part of what
makes the Kelly McCarty 3’s Roux Steady (72 Offsuit Records,
The trio also includes drummer A.J. Hall and tenor saxophonist John A.
Diaz-Cortes. The concept of Roux Steady
is as much a play on words as it is about making good music. One
ingredient is the Jamaican brand of R&B known as rock steady. The other
is roux. Outside of artistic references, roux is a sauce or gravy that
used in stew, gumbo or jamabalaya. McCarty and his pals get the roux
just right as they concoct some New Orleans-style rock steady.
“Hooverville” is a soulful, sassy piece that gives the tenor a lot of
space. Diaz-Cortes grinds, wails and just plays for the sheer joy of
playing. Behind him, Hall and McCarty put on quite a show themselves.
“Summer Beer,” something that should go well with gumbo, is a bouncy
tune. Hall mixes rim shots with deft work on the hi-hats, a jaunty snare
and an occasional splash. And if this short piece isn’t enough, “Summer
Beers” brings the same melody, but with shifting tempos.
The reggae influence comes through clearly on “Bactrian.” One can almost
feel the spirit of Bob Marley as the trio digs into this spirited piece.
As things heat up, the gumbo aroma permeates the sound, all while
maintaining the Jamaican influence.
McCarty, Hall and Diaz-Cortes accomplish their goal with Roux Steady,
blending two vastly different styles of music and making them sound like
they belong together.