Allen Carman Project feat Marc Antoine & Philippe Saisse

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Allen Carman Project feat Marc Antoine & Philippe Saisse
Allen Carman - bass
Marc Antoine - guitar
Philippe Saisse - keys

Thanks to the clever title of the debut album by rapidly-burgeoning urban-contemporary jazz supergroup The Allen Carman Project, we now have a phrase that perfectly captures a unique and inspiring phenomenon. “Carmanology” is what happens when a lifelong musician – in this case, bassist Allen Carman – hooks up with masters of his chosen genre, rekindles his long set-aside dreams and creates an extraordinary recording chock-full of innovative sounds, infectious melodies, explosive grooves and irresistible radio hits.

More than the realization of the vision of a single artist, The Allen Carman Project is a fresh collective featuring a host of contemporary jazz greats, each contributing a distinct musical perspective. With a rhythmic and melodic foundation laid by Carman, Grammy-nominated keyboardist Philippe Saisse, percussionist Gumbi Ortiz and drummer Luis Alicea (all celebrated veterans of fusion legend Al Di Meola’s band), “Carmanology” fast becomes an expansive playground for fun, freewheeling creative contributions by saxophonist Andy Snitzer, violinist Evan Garr (also from the Di Meola fold), guitarist Marc Antoine, trumpeter Rick Braun and Grammy-winning guitar legend Nile Rodgers.

The Allen Carman Project paved the way for the release of the “Carmanology” collection with several popular radio singles over the past couple of years, including the muscular, brass-fired Saisse-composed funk jam title track, which reached No. 23 on the Billboard singles chart in 2017; “Morning After,” a Saisse penned, spirited soul-jazz romp featuring Braun that also reached No. 23 in 2018; and “Hearsay,” a fiery Carman and Saisse co-write that features some of the bassist’s deepest grooves and snappy lead melody.

The latest single to drop prior to the album release date is “State of Mine” featuring wild keyboard vocalizations by Saisse and the high energy, funky rhythm guitar from special guest Rodgers. Other notable tracks on “Carmanology” that reflect the group’s diversity are the Brazilian/Afro-Cuban fusion gem “Carisma,” spotlighting Carman on piccolo bass and Antoine on guitar; and a moody, mystical spin through Joni Mitchell’s wistful classic “River.”

Carman and Ortiz have been friends and kindred musical spirits since the mid-80s when the percussionist sat in with the bassist’s popular Tampa-area group City Heat. The concept for “Carmanology” began developing when the two musicians happened to do a gig together in 2015, their first mutual appearance in many years. After several decades on the road with Di Meola, Ortiz was looking to shift gears, and he mentioned that he was working with Saisse on an album. He suggested that Carman do a project with them. The bassist had never stopped playing, but he had been focused on his career as an attorney the previous twenty years. Carman jumped at the opportunity to rediscover his musical passion.

Born and raised in South Jersey, Carman’s musical journey began at age twelve when he learned bass (on a beat-up Winston) and piano. His mother was a piano teacher and there was also an old Hammond organ in the house. He quickly formed a trio and began playing gigs at a local golf club restaurant. Carman pursued his musical dreams right out of high school, hitting the road with the Top 40 band Renegade. Traveling the country for a number of years, he shared the stage with Vince Gill, David Muse (Firefall, Marshall Tucker), Joe Lala (Stephen Stills, Bee Gees), Bobby Caldwell, Jock Bartley (Firefall), Chet McCracken (Doobie Brothers) and Chris Pinnick (Chicago) among others.

Driven by his need for financial stability, Carman put music on hold, went back to college and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida followed by a law degree from Rutgers University. His work with Ortiz and Saissse and subsequent creation of The Allen Carman Project inspired him to commit to music again on a full-time basis. The group aims to support “Carmanology” with a 15-city concert tour.

“I always felt like I was a musician first and that was always my true passion,” says Carman. “The whole ‘Carmanology’ experience has been a blast for me and has far exceeded my expectations. The success we have had to this point has been unexpected to say the least. Gumbi wanted us to get together with Philippe, put some songs together and do an album, but there were no promises beyond that. We did the first four songs with Andy (Snitzer) and then invited the other featured artists, and everything developed from there.

“I grew up on Tower of Power, Jaco Pastorius and Weather Report so I’ve always been into funk and I love Philippe’s hip, tight changes,” he adds. “Philippe and Gumbi have introduced me to exciting elements like Afro Cuban rhythms that were not in my wheelhouse, and it’s been exciting to learn from them and incorporate these elements as well. I can’t wait to get out on the road with these fabulous musicians and play for live audiences. It will be magical.”


ABOUT ALLEN

Allen has been playing bass and keyboards since the age of twelve. He traveled the country for several years as a working musician sharing the stage with several nationally recognized musicians such as Vince Gill, David Muse (Firefall, Marshall Tucker), Gumbi Ortiz (Al DiMeola), Joe Lala (Steven Stills, BeeGees), Bobby Caldwell (Johnny Winter), Jock Bartley (Firefall), Chet McCracken (Doobie Brothers) and Chris Piniick (Chicago) during his musical career. In his early thirties, he put music on hold and obtained a law degree. He created and maintained a successful law practice beginning in 1996. Last year. Allen decided to go back to his musical roots and play music full time again. He has recently played and recorded with Dave Muse from Firefall on his new smooth jazz project. While in town Allen plays with some of the local jazz bands in the Tampa Bay area. He has played all genres of music including country, jazz, and pop. The Allen Carman Project features Phillippe Saisse on keyboards, Gumbi Ortiz on percussion, Andy Snitzer on sax and Luis Alicea on drums. Most of the songs on the latest CD were recorded in part at Avatar Recording Studios in NYC and mixed by the one and only Roy Henrickson.