Rants and Ramblings – Allen’s Blog

Opinions are like …………….. noses.  Everybody has one.  This is where I’ll be sounding off on the things I feel to be important and I hope you’ll read and respond as time goes by.

June 5, 2017


You know how sometimes you wonder if anyone is noticing your music? I’m in Starbuck’s yesterday and a person I don’t know just walks up to me, starts shaking my hand and says, “I just want you to know that I truly love your music.” I was blown away! I guess some folks do notice! Affirmation is a wonderful thing.

Had a great time on my first trip to Alaska though the red-eye home was a bitch! Great playing with great players and I can now state emphatically that you can NOT see Russia from Wasila, AK because I was there! I feel so deceived by that cruel vixen Sarah Palin.

The school year finished wonderfully but not without some sadness. I graduated some GREAT kids this year who are moving on to wonderful futures in music. I went straight from the graduation ceremony to the airport and out to Los Angeles for six days of R&R along with some great learning. Got to meet and learn from three great writers, visited BMI and stopped by the Grammy Foundation offices. Got locked in a stairwell at BMI which led to an interesting moment with building security but it was, as they say, “all good”. Also went down to the union to hang and listen to a rehearsal band I used to play with back when I was out there. FANTASTIC trip. So refreshing.

And now it’s summer in Fargo, America. Just chilling – NOT. I’ve been writing, working on teaching materials, and, of course, practicing.

Hope all is well with all of you. Be in touch.

Mar. 8, 2017


Just got a call to do a festival in Alaska in a few weeks with some heavy players. Guess it’s time to step up the typical practice regimen a bit! More details to come. I wonder if you really can see Russia from there? Guess I’ll find out!

Feb. 19, 2017


The CD is out and doing great! It received a rave 4 1/2 out of 5 star rating on allaboutjazz.com and was nominated as a top pick on play lists for some jazz stations in the big band area.

I’m back at the university feverishly teaching “my kids”, grading, inventing, doing all I can so they can have the joys I have received from a life in music. Trying to decide if there should be another project. Any thoughts? I already have a concept and an album title if I want to be honest; “Singers and Strings and a Big Band Oh My!” What do you think?

Bought a house in Palm Springs. Retirement? Not soon but who knows.

July 7, 2016


When I did the “Gifts” CD, I came to realize that if I wanted to really hear what was happening at the session, I had to be in the booth and/or conducting. The problem with that was that I also wanted to play drums (it WAS my recording after all!). In conjunction with my ace engineer/good friend/faculty colleague RYAN JACKSON, we figured out the answer; record the drums in our high definition Pro Tools studio here in Fargo-Moorhead and take those tracks to Los Angeles where we’d layer the rest of the band on top of it.

Yep, that’s what we did! The guys in the band were surprised at how well it went and people who listen to the CD have no idea that the drums were recorded separately. It went beautifully and it catered to my control issues (When you’re the one writing the checks, you can have those.).

That’s what we’re doing again! Ryan and I will record here, upload the files to RICH BREEN in Los Angeles, we’ll walk into the studio and off we’ll go. Technology saves the day.


I have these two students who are jazz majors and percussionists and they’ve studied writing and all sorts of stuff and they’re graduating next spring and they want to move to Los Angeles. We’ll call them Kathryn and Matthew since those are their names! I thought it might be nice for them to get a taste of what they’re getting into so I’m taking them along to assist at the sessions and, OH YEAH, they’re going FOR FREE (I got a grant from the university to give them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity). I have a full slate of things planned for them (maybe a surprise or two). I’m doing this for two reasons; they’re good students and they’re exceptional young PEOPLE! I think they could both do well if they go out and really invest themselves.

So yes, if you come to school, study hard, don’t give me any crap or any headaches, nice things happen for you.

The time is rapidly approaching for the sessions. Check my Facebook page for daily updates when we get there. https://www.facebook.com/allen.carter.acmuzik

Hope everyone’s having a great summer. I’ll get two weeks vacation in August after the session is over.

June 21, 2016


Everyone (yes, both of you) has been asking, “So what’s on the new CD?”

It’s no secret that I love doing contrafacts (new melodies over classic chord changes) and there are a few of those here. I also enjoy doing old tunes in new ways and there are a couple of those as well. With the title of the CD (and title tune) being “Time On My Hands”, the concept of time (as in not always being in 4) became something I wanted to explore and there are some chances being taken in virtually every tune. The result is the combination of compositions and arrangements listed below in what I think will be their order of appearance and just a bit about each one.

TIME ON MY HANDS – An arrangement of a Vincent Youmans tune that dances between a frantic up-tempo swing and a medium (half time) straight ahead feel. You should check out the Chet Baker version on YouTube. This arrangement will sound NOTHING like it.

TABLE FOR ONE – Ballad that’s a trumpet/flugel feature. Low key, kinda “smoky”.

ALL BLUES – I got to play a gig once with trombonist Conrad Herwig who insisted we play this as a shuffle. I came to love it and have taken that original twist on this classic Miles tune even a bit further.

UNBRIDLED JOY – Mellow, tasty bossa featuring trombone.

EVAN STEPS DIFFERENTLY – A little bit like “Seven Steps To Heaven” but a way different bridge. Also, this tune IS in 7 (most of the time) so there’s that.

YELLOW SUNSHINE 16 – Those who have known me since my youthful days on the plains of Kansas know that this was one of my first compositions and it has gone through a LOT of incarnations. This may be the 16th one. I don’t know. Yes, the bulk of it is in 13 but it’s your typical 13 with the backbeats on 5 and 11. Though the three-part cluster voicings imply minor or Phrygian, there is also a major 3rd in the bass-line ostinato so your guess is as good as mine what “mode” we’re in. Pretty dissonant!

IN FROM OUT THERE – Best possible way to follow two tunes with metric challenges? A straight ahead swinger on the chord changes to “Out Of Nowhere” with your standard issue AC saxophone soli.

BOSSA NO MAS – Part “Blue Bossa”, part “No More Blues”, this is a samba featuring flute among other surprises.LOTS of winds without the rhythm section.

PRAYER – Straight 8th, a bit Metheny-esque in concept. Great story behind this chart that I’ll put on the website at some point.

Last tuneTBA – It will be one of two contrafacts – up tempo swingers both of ‘em. Either “JUST NO TIME” – on the changes to “Just In Time” OR “BAD BAMA BETTY” – on the changes to “Sweet Georgia Brown”. I like to start and end with tunes that swing hard regardless of what’s in the middle.

So there you go. Six weeks until we record! Exciting times here. Stay in touch!

June 13, 2016


No, I don’t suddenly have an inordinate amount of free time with nothing to do. Time On My Hands is an old Vincent Youmans  tune that just happens to be the title tune of my new CD that we’re recording in late July in Los Angeles. The last week of July, I’ll be at East West Studios (eastweststudios.com) with an all-star band that Wayne Bergeron (waynebergeron.com) is putting together for me. Check out this personnel.

SAXES – Dan Higgins, Greg Huckins, Bob Sheppard, Rusty Higgins, Tom Peterson

TRUMPETS – Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Rob Schaer, Ron Stout

TROMBONES – Andy Martin, Alex Iles, Alan Kaplan, Bill Reichenbach

RHYTHM SECTION – Christian Jacob (Piano), Tom Hynes (Guitar), Ken Wild (Bass)

I’m doing eight originals and two arrangements and with THIS band, if there are any problems I have to look in the mirror to see where they’re coming from!

Julie and I have been saving and planning off and on since the last project and the money and time are right RIGHT NOW. Yes, I’m financing this old-school; a little used funding source that you don’t hear about much these days called I FUND ME DOT COM. In the interest of full disclosure, my university DID give me a small grant but the bulk of that money is being used to take students with me to observe. I just can’t bring myself to ask you folks to finance my dreams. I’ll never be able to wrap my head around that.

Check out my Facebook page in July for pics and almost daily updates as the process plays out. I’m tremendously excited.


I am now the proud grandfather of four and Jeremy just turned 35!

I continue to have the time of my life training martial arts at an MMA gym.

After NEXT school year, I’m taking a one-year sabbatical (so if you hear a knock at your door).

I’m trying to organize the schedule to go to my 45th class reunion (YIKES!)

I guess I’d better get back to the writing table. These charts don’t write themselves.

Oh yeah! I shaved the beard.