Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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CARR, Mike

(b 7 Dec. '37, South Shields, Co. Durham, England) Piano and vibes, then electric piano, organ with bass pedals from '66; composer. Self-taught on piano; formed EmCee Five with brother Ian Carr (see above), popular in Newcastle area and made highly praised EP, not revivalists but playing the contemporary jazz of the early '60s, showing that UK jazz existed outside London, and very good jazz at that. Led trios with Malcolm Cecil on bass (who later played with Stevie Wonder, Jim Hall), John McLaughlin, others; duo with drummer Tony Crombie (d 18 Oct. '99 in London, aged 74) became the Ronnie Scott Trio '71-5 including gigs in NYC: 'P&O Blues' (with drummer Bobby Gein on RCA LP Scott At Ronnie's '73) shows why Carr was highly praised by Oscar Peterson ('I have never heard an organist in the States who has all that swinging, the organ, the electric piano, the bass pedals'), his hands and feet on the Hammond making a trio sound larger. He has toured the world, played at Carnegie Hall and at Buddy Rich's club in NYC. Other LPs: Hammond Under Pressure on EMI '68 (duo with Crombie), Mike Carr and Rhythm on Arps (with Gein and Terry Smith on guitar), trio Live At Ronnie Scott's on Spotlite '79 (with Jim Mullen, Harold Smith on drums), Loving You on Fly Productions (with Peter King on sax); also recorded with Prince Lasha for CBS '66. Carr formed a jazz-funk recording group Cargo '80, licensed singles to EMI and WEA UK, Atlantic USA and smaller labels, charting in various markets. He formed his own labels: Cargo's For Export Only on Cargo Gold CD compiles instrumentals and mixes on his own tunes with backing vocals, soloists including Dick Morrissey, Jim Mullen, Victor Feldman, Don Weller, Danny Moss: a standout track is Carr's tune 'Without You', with his keyboard break, Morrissey's sax and lead vocal, beautiful backup singing by Marva Hicks, Janet Powell and Janice Harrison; 'Holding On For Love' has Dave Collins on lead vocal, Carr on piano and vibes and was played ten times a day on WBLS, a top NYC black station; 'Jazz Rap' is fun, with Dr Jazz (Canadian actor Billy Mitchell) contriving to include more than 70 jazz nicknames. Today's easy listening should always be this good. Bebop From The East Coast 1960/1962 on Birdland compiled the EmCee Five including rare tracks; The Lady From Savannah '89 was an Irene Reid album (she sang with Basie mid-'60s, often gigged in UK); Good Times And The Blues by the Mike Carr Quartet and Trio '93 a highly praised CD by Reid's backing group: Carr on Hammond C3, Morrissey, Mullen and Mark Taylor on drums. Carr gigged on piano with Jean Toussaint in London etc, always able to demonstrate his gift for pure jazz, never a good way to earn a living.