Raised in Washington, D.C., Marc Cary has become known as one
of the most original jazz pianists in New York. A man of eclectic tastes, Cary
has a strong post-bop foundation but has also explored Afro-Cuban rhythms, electronic
groove music, and other directions with his various ensembles. Upon arriving
in New York, Cary was taken under the wing of Mickey Bass and Beaver Harris.
His first big-time gigs came in the early '90s with Arthur Taylor, Betty Carter,
and Roy Hargrove. In 1994, he became Abbey Lincoln's pianist and arranger.
Cary's own records have shown great promise, beginning with 1994's Cary On.
Two releases for Arabesque followed, Listen in 1996 and The Antidote in 1998.
An uncharacteristic electronica project titled Rhodes Ahead, Vol. 1 appeared
in 1999, as did a live album by Cary's world music group Indigenous People (both
on the Jazzateria label). Cary's acoustic trio released Trillium in early 2000.
- By David R. Adler, All Music Group.
pianist, producer / composer
The Indigenous People's new CD Captured Live In Brazil (Jazzateria
#20301-2) is the follow-up to two acclaimed Marc Cary CDs, Listen (Arabesque,
1997) and The Antidote (Arabesque, 1998) and is further proof of his unique
jazz vision. His Indigenous People group mines the rich history of African diasporic
music, from African folk melodies, Brazilian and Caribbean grooves to American
jazz, funk and go-go rhythms. Cary states: "Our intention on this CD was
to capture the spirit of our people and perpetuate their energy through our
music." At times recalling flashes of electric Herbie Hancock, Weather
Report and 60's and 70's excursions by musical trend-setters like Donald Byrd
and Cannonball Adderly, Captured Live In Brazil is an expansive exploration
of groove by the young keyboardist and bandleader, who shines on acoustic piano,
Fender Rhodes and Moog. From the pensive, wide-open opener "Rain Dance"
to the percussion-heavy "Indigenous People Pt. II", Cary's new group
is with him every step of the way, surrounding him as a living, breathing musical
Thirty-two year old Washington, DC-bred MARC CARY is one of
the most inventive and unique keyboardists on the scene today. As a solo artist
as well as through sideman work with Abbey Lincoln, Arthur Taylor and Betty
Carter, Cary has consistently impressed critics and jazz listeners alike. Peter
Watrous of the New York Times noted in 1995: "As a pianist, Mr. Cary is
growing... he is onto something important." Tom Terrel of JazzTimes stated
of Listen: "...this is one powerful harbinger of a jazz life to come."
And K. Leander Williams of Time Out New York says: "...Cary's arrangements
tend to be hefty and light at the same time, brimming with just the right amount
of pop momentum and Caribbean percussion to float references to Monk, Mingus
and even the relaxed karmic worldbeat of Pharoah Sanders." Captured Live
In Brazil is Cary's fourth CD as a leader, and is a huge next step in his artistic
maturation — both as composer and bandleader.
Jazz Fact Deserving Of Wider Recognition: Washington, D.C.
is a veritable motherlode for innovative jazz pianists (think Duke Ellington,
John Malachi, Shirley Horn). Today, the spirit of those that came before is
alive and well in the halls of Duke Ellington School For The Arts. Proof positive
of this postulation is pianist Marc Cary.
Although born in New York City (Jan.29, 1967), Marc experienced
his formative years in Chocolate City. His parents are musician/artists (his
father is a percussionist, his mother a cellist/painter who also crafts jewelry)
who naturally nurtured young Marc's successive forays into cello, trumpet and
drums. Indeed, the playing of instruments was an old family tradition. "My
great-grandmother, Mae York Smith, used to play piano in theaters accompanying
silent movies", recalls Marc. "She used to play duets with Eubie Blake
they would switch up left hand / right hand. She lived to be 100 years old.
My mother's father is a trumpet player, first cousin to Cootie Williams -- played
in his band down South. Duke called him but he decided to stay and raise the
Like every young kid with an axe before him, Cary joined the
HIgh Integrity Band & Show, one of DC's many Go-Go bands. Finding the drum
& trumpet chairs already filled, he began to dabble in synths and Fender
Rhodes. Showbiz can be a pretty elixir for a teenager -- he dropped out of high
school at 16. As he slid into the Go-Go highlife, young Marc's descent was turned
around by two guardian angels. "Eleanor Oxendine in Maryland one of my
first rudimentary teachers, taught me how to read and gave me access to her
studio," says Cary. "She eventually employed me to teach the kids.
At RAP Inc. (DC community activist center) I met Daniel Witt, he hipped me to
piano, I developed a real appreciation for it."
Now A young man with a mission , Cary quit the Go-Go and passed
his exam to enter Duke Ellington School. Three years later, the now 20 high
school grad was feeling New York. Finishing up post-grad studies with local
heroes John Malachi and Calvin Jones, our man caught the first Greyhound outta
town. "I came to the city at 21 with twenty dollars in my pocket -- now
I have 40 bucks to my name," laughs Marc. "I hooked up with Beaver
Harris and Mickey Bass." Impressed with their new friend's humble vibe
and sneakily meditative piano swing, these two elders schooled and guided Cary
through the underground. Soon, Arthur Taylor's Wailers and Betty Carter beckoned.
Cary would tour and record with both (MR. AT and DROPPIN' THINGS, respectively).
Working with these masters not only strengthened his chops, he found his center.
"From AT I learned everything, life, his life, what to do what not to do
-- always be prepared and get your money up front. From Betty, I learned 'Tight'
-- how to be on top, the etiquette of being a musician."
Cary's education continues today in Abbey Lincoln's band. Of
Lincoln, he says, "She's my mentor, one of my favorite persons. She teaches
me you got to claim shit -- I've learned allot of music with her and how to
personalize it, take it more serious. (Check out Marc's accompaniment skills
on Abbey's latest record, WHO USED TO DANCE)." -- JazzTimes, Tom Terrell.
The Marc Cary's discography:
Focus (Motema, 2006)
Trillium (Jazzateria JZZ20304, 2000)
Rhodes Ahead (Jazzateria JZZ20303, 2000)
Indigenous People (Captured live in Brazil) (Jazzateria JZZ20301, 1999)
The Antidote (Arabesque AJ0140, 1998)
Listen (Arabesque 01252, 1997)
Who Used To Dance (PolyGram/Nerve 35592, 1997)
The Magician (Enja 90372, 1996)
Cary On (Enja 90232, 1995)
Closest To The Sun (Enja 80742, 1994)
Of Kindred Souls (BMG 63154, 1993)
Mark Whitfield (Warner Bros. 45210, 1993)
The Vibe (BMG 63132, 1992)
Mr. A. T. (Enja 79677, 1992)
Droppin' Things (Polygram/Nerve 39912, 1990)