Aug 31 2012

Joe Carter: Both Sides of the Equator

Two Sides, One Great Sound


Both Sides of the EquatorBoth Sides of the Equator is not Joe Carter’s first incursion into Brazilian music. Joe fell in love with Brazilian music after performing in Brazil several times as well as teaching there. His subtle, warm and stylish guitar playing is very well suited for a variety of Brazilian genres he performs, including Samba, Bossa Nova and even Baião. A graduate of New York University, Joe also studied with guitarists Sal Salvador, John Scofield and Allan Hanlon as well as saxophonist Lee Konitz and pianist Don Friedman. This well-rounded musical education formed the basis of his tailor-made style in Brazilian music. Joe is well respected as a Brazilian performer on both sides of the Equator. He has recorded with harmonica player Mauricio Einhorn, bassist Nilson Matta (of Trio da Paz and Brazilian Trio), saxophonist Lee Konitz, flugelhornist Art Farmer and dozen of other jazz musicians.

As with his three previous Brazilian albums — Um Abraço no Rio (1996), The Samba Rio Trio (1997) and Two for Two (2001), all on Empathy Records — Joe never overdoes his performances and arrangements. He prefers the effective intimacy of duo, trio and quartet formations for Brazilian music. Here in Both Sides of the Equator Joe is joined by bassist David Finck and percussionist Zé Maurício in a balanced collection of music by Brazilian and North American composers. He also adds to this fine mixture two of his own compositions.

Several things in Both Sides of the Equator make the album thoroughly enjoyable. With Joe’s masterful approach to these melodies, the album flows smoothly from track to track and maintains the listener absorbed in this fine material. One remarkable characteristic of a good musician who knows well the music being performed is the ability to transcend geographical borders seamlessly. Joe accomplishes that very well when he goes from Menescal to Loesser in the first two tracks of the album as well as in the rest of the album. His lyrical arrangement for Jobim’s “Mojave” is one of the first surprises in the album. Normally performed in an uptempo style, here Joe takes this Jobim classic a couple of notches down in its tempo and gives us a beautiful and unforgettable ballad. Picture a soft and breezy afternoon on a white sandy beach with nothing but the sound of the ocean and vast skies above you. “Mojave” is the soundtrack for this paradisiacal landscape.

Joe Carter

Another surprising arrangement Joe reserved for us comes in Milton Nascimento’s well known “Ponta de Areia.” Unlike any other arrangement I’ve ever heard for this song, here Joe creates a whole new setting for this song with a soft baião flavor. It is different and works quite well.

Guitar lovers and listeners looking for innovative approaches to Brazilian and North American classics should find plenty of material to enjoy in Both Sides of the Equator. Joe Carter’s expert hands and cool guitar solos can be sublime as in “Valsa de Eurídice” and impetuous as in “Tema do Boneco de Palha.” Joe does cover well the music from both sides of the Equator with one great sound.

You can read more about the artist and album in his website.



Joe Carter
Both Sides of the Equator 
Empathy Records E-1012 (2012)
Time: 37’44”


  1. Nós e o Mar (Roberto Menescal – Ronaldo Bôscoli)
  2. I’ve Never Been in Love Before (Frank Loesser)
  3. Mojave (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
  4. Viktor with a K (Joe Carter)
  5. Blame it on My Youth (Oscar Levant)
  6. Ponta de Areia (Mílton Nascimento)
  7. Valsa de Eurídice (Vinícius de Moraes)
  8. Batida Diferente (Mauricio Einhorn – Durval Ferreira)
  9. Young and Foolish ( Albert Hague – Arnold Horwitt)
  10. Tema do Boneco de Palha (Vera Brasil – Sivan Castelo Neto)
  11. Waltz for Debby (Bill Evans)
  12. Nada Como Ter Amor (Carlos Lyra – Vinícius de Moraes)
  13. Variations on a Theme by Bill Evans (Joe Carter)