Biography posted by on October 10, 2012

Mark Carter has been working as a musician and entertainer in Southern California since 1973, performing in restaurants, hotels and other concert venues.  He has performed in many situations, from intimate solo guitar settings to bands that play blues, rock, country and pop as well as singing and playing in big bands at Disneyland and on cruise ships.

As a guitarist Mark has played with some of the biggest names in music including Al Jarreau, Dave Koz, David Foster, Roger Williams, Glen Campbell, Englebert Humperdink, Lee Greenwood, and features many times with the Crystal Cathedral Orchestra.

“Smooth As Silk” is his latest CD featuring contemporary jazz greats Greg Adams, Jeff Kashiwa and Tim Redfield.  Mark’s music has received airplay on over 50 radio stations across America including KSBR in Mission Viejo, KJJZ in Palm Springs, XMRadio and The Weather Channel.  Jazz Internet radio stations play his music around the world daily.

Mark has also enjoyed a career in education.  He is currently on staff as a guitar instructor at Singer Music in La Puente, CA.

Performance locations include:

The Dal Rae, Pico Rivera
Cedar Creek Inn, Brea
The Barkley, Pasadena
The Ritz-Carlton, Pasadena and Marina Del Rey
The Coachman, Riverside
Friendly Hills C.C., Whittier
PGA West C.C., Palm Desert
Woodhaven C.C., Palm Springs
Beverly Hills C.C., Beverly Hills
Fisherman’s Village, Marina Del Rey
Shoreline Village, Long Beach
Affair In The Garden, Beverly Hills
The Gardens at El Paseo, Palm Desert
The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano
Spaghettini, Seal Beach.

For Bookings please call (626) 485-926 or (626) 336-8686.

West Coast Groove

“It’s About Time!” Fans of smooth jazz guitar were exclaiming the title of Mark Carter’s popular and critically acclaimed 2001 independent debut upon first listen, and they’re shouting it all over again in eager anticipation of the veteran guitarist’s long awaited follow-up, West Coast Groove.

Carter’s vibrant and intense, jazz-oriented style, picture perfect melodies, bright brass harmonies and seductive rhythms once again capture the spirit of celebration. While It’s About Time paid homage to chief guitar influences Wes Montgomery and Grant Green, West Coast Groove—which features longtime associates and well known smooth jazz musicians Tim Redfield and saxmen Eric Marienthal and Michael Paulo–invites the listener into the joyful, all at once laid back and bustling world of Carter’s adopted home of Southern California.

In some ways, it’s like an ongoing dance with an old friend, in particular, the Gibson 335 electric whose cool tone and versatility has helped forge the trademark “Mark Carter sound” over the past 25 years. While the optimistic, high energy vibe of West Coast Groove perfectly captures the freespirited mindset of contemporary jazz’s “West Coast Cool,” on a more personal level, the Kansas native who spent part of his youth in Oklahoma is conveying the essence of his life in SoCal to his relatives back home.

“My family and Oklahoma roots mean so much to me, but where I live is so much different from any other part of the country, and I wanted to express that musically,” says Carter, who has lived in California since age 12. “I live inland, in the San Gabriel Valley, but the songs here were inspired by literally hundreds of visits to Los Angeles’ West side and Santa Monica. Walking on the Promenade and then on the world famous pier gave me the perfect balance of peace of mind and solitude with bustle and interaction with people on the go.

“There’s a certain craziness about living in a metropolitan city, but L.A. is unique in that a few minutes away from all that is the Pacific Ocean,” Carter adds. “I can stand on the pier, look out at the water and contemplate all the things going on in my life. The album artwork really reflects that. I loved ‘It’s About Time’ because I had the chance to explore so many of my favorite genres of music, but West Coast Groove is a much more ‘up’ record, reflecting a whole new positive attitude about life. On some of the songs, there’s a sense of abandonment and I was still able to let my true voice on the guitar shine through.”

Carter’s true voice is crisp, fluid and crackling on “Brand New Love,” the fiery, brass inflected blues-pop-soul jam that opens the disc. While listeners will clearly hear the bright, forward thinking optimism of a new romance, the song and its extreme velocity were inspired instead by a restored ’66 red mustang he likes to refer to as the new love of his life. “Party on the Pier” keeps the sizzling blues-funk energy going, driven by a snappy lead melody and exciting solo sections by Carter and Marienthal. While “Her Song” is one of Carter’s moments of quiet and moody romantic reflection, the fire kicks back in on the bouncy, hip-hop influenced strutting attitude of “Walk The Walk,” also featuring Marienthal. Redfield’s loops surround Carter’s brisk melody with a pitter patter percussion on the jazzy “Dance For a Dreamer,” which also includes the wistful flute soloing of Mark Visher.

A sly sense of romance returns as Carter looks out longingly towards the “Santa Monica Sunsets” (with Angela Michael seducing beautifully with her wordless vocals) before going retro with a fresh and festive rendition of Carole King’s classic “Jazzman.” “I really connect with the spiritual vibe of the song,” Carter says. “It’s all about the ability of music to take us to a higher place.” “Midnight in the Marina” takes the guitarist to the moody ambience of the ocean at night, where he plays a thoughtful melody surrounded by the lush caress of soulful horns. Redfield’s classically flavored piano swirls lead into the multi-genre hybrid of “Night N2 Day,” which blends an old school soul flavor with a tight electric pop-jazz vibe. Fans of the now classic Norah Jones hit “Don’t Know Why” are going to love Carter’s elegant and sensuous, slightly tropical twist. Inspired by one of the guitarist’s favorite jazz clubs in the beach community of Venice, “Hangin’ At Hal’s” takes a let it all hang out approach to jamming over a colorful samba groove.

Mark Carter fondly remembers the life changing moment when he realized his future lay in playing jazz guitar. When he was thirteen years old, his brother brought home an LP of the legendary Wes Montgomery’s Tequila, and the young guitarist couldn’t stop listening. Then he began exploring the music of Grant Green, Chet Atkins and Kenny Burrell, and later, George Benson and Carlos Santana. The El Dorado, Kansas native (who lived in Tulsa, where his grandfather was a well known musician, till age ten) had begun toying with the guitar a few years earlier.

Carter played in numerous high school jazz bands and has been a professional musician for over thirty years, performing thousands of gigs throughout Southern California at restaurants, clubs, parties, etc. as a soloist, part of a guitar duet and bandleader. His incredible versatility has led him to play countless gigs with some of the biggest names in contemporary music—Dave Koz, Eric Marienthal, Al Jarreau, The Drifters, The Coasters and Engelbert Humperdinck. As longtime guitarist for the Crystal Cathedral, he played with David Foster, Glen Campbell, Roger Williams and Lee Greenwood.

A well regarded session player, he’s also recorded music for Royal Viking Cruise Lines, Disneyland, The Hollywood Palladium, Hot Spots Music Library, KDOC-TV and American Cable TV. Carter has taught guitar at various schools throughout Southern California, and has also played for many years in the worship band at his home church in Montrose, California, currently called Light On The Corner. Carter’s faith is very much a part of his musical life, and the liner notes to both of his recordings boldly feature Scriptural references for his fans to meditate on.

“It’s really a unique life, playing music for people and making them happy for so many years, and I consider myself very blessed,” he says. “Every time I play, I really watch the audience members for that special connection that happens when the moment is right. There’s nothing like getting them excited about life and bringing them joy. I love watching people have a good time, and it’s so inspiring to me knowing how my music has touched them. I knew I was reaching a new level in my career when fans started coming to my gigs and requesting songs from my first album!”

No doubt, as West Coast Groove catches on as one of the top independent smooth jazz releases of 2005, more fans will catch on to the Mark Carter experience and add many of his new songs to their request lists. No matter where you live, anyplace is the right place to move along to the magic of the West Coast Groove.

It’s About Time

Mark Carter fondly remembers the life changing moment, when he realized his future lay in playing jazz guitar. His brother brought home an LP of the legendary Wes Montgomery’s “Tequila”, and the young guitarist couldn’t stop listening. Then he began exploring the music of Grant Green, Chet Atkins and Kenny Burrell, and later George Benson and Carlos Santana. His other great anecdote finds a youthful Carter at a drive-in seeing Goldfinger, responding excitedly to the theme song’s electric guitar. Carter brings a lifetime of these amazing guitar memories and influences to his debut recording It’s About Time, a dynamic smooth jazz oriented project which reflects his great love for R&B, funk, jazz, pop, and even flamenco music.

Drawing on over 25 years of live performance and studio experience, Carter takes us on a one of a kind journey, offering tribute to the masters Montgomery (the soulful shuffle “Groovin Out Wes”) and Green ( a bluesy “Green Is Beautiful”), paying homage to familiar pop standards (“Could It Be I’m Falling In Love”, I Just Wanna Stop”) and show\casing his composing and improvisational abilities on his own eight original tunes. The title “Its About Time” comes from the playful joke his longtime fans made when he told them he was finally committing his music to CD.

“This music has been bubbling inside of me for a long time, and technology has brought home recording to a new level recently,” says Carter. “Having the Roland VS-1680, has made recording at home and across town so much more easier and practical. I have always had a love for this kind of music, going back to Grant Green and watching the R&B influences come in with players like George Benson. This music is reflective of various growth experiences I’ve had in recent years, and its mix of influences shows just how I have been educated by all those artists I’ve admired during my life and career. I tried to create songs that were funky and accessible, but that would also allow me to stretch out and really play.”

A true labor of love, It’s About Time features contributions from several of Carter’s lifelong musical friends, and exciting collaborations with new associates Tim Redfield and popular smooth jazz guitarist Richard Smith. Six of the tracks were produced by veteran keyboardist Redfield (known for his production work with Smith and harpist Roberto Perera) and three were produced by Redfield and Smith. The final two tracks, the breezy, reggae tinged “Lost In Cabo” and the snappy, optimistic “Weekend Get Away”, were produced by longtime Carter associate Bobby Williams. Another old pal of Carter’s, guitarist Ric Flauding added the beautiful string arrangements to these two tunes and contributed the seductive “West On Sunset”.

Other key tracks on Its About time are the laid back, soulful “SmoothDancer” (a tune about the magic created by a couple dancing, featuring a sly duality between Carter’s guitar and Tony Guerrero’s smooth fluglehorn); the folksy, gospel-tinged “Alone With You”; the bluesy brassy funk tune “Cats On The Beach”; and the sweeping and mystical, Eastern flavored “Move A Little Closer”, which rings colorfully like a piece done by the Japanese American band Hiroshima.

Carter was not shy about including the Bible quote from Philippians 4:13 in his liner notes (“I can do all things through him who gives me strength”), and he considers his music a natural expression and out growth of his relationship with God. “I find that creating music brings me to those moments when I am as close to him as I have ever been,” says Carter, who currently leads worship at the Church At Angeles Crest in LaCanada, California. “Music for me is a direct dialogue with God. It’s giving back and making good use of the gifts he has blessed me with.”

Originally from El Dorado, Kansas, Carter lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma (where his grandfather was a well known musician) till age ten and has made Southern California his home ever since. He first toyed with the guitar at age nine, then got serious around age thirteen when he heard the Wes Montgomery record, “That was the monumental moment,” he says. “For some my age it was Jimi Hendrix, but for me, time stopped when I heard “Tequila”. He played in his high school jazz band and has worked steadily as a musician from the time he graduated.” I’ve done every kind of gig imaginable, from restaurants to country clubs, weddings, solo guitar at piano bars,….. pop, jazz, big bands, from Pasadena to Palm Springs,” he says. “Performing live has always been the most amazing thing for me.”

Over the years, Carter has had the chance to perform with some of the biggest names in modern music-Dave Koz, Eric Marienthal, Al Jarreau, Rogers Williams, The Drifters, The Coasters, and Engelbert Humperdink. As longtime guitarist for special performances at the Crystal Cathedral, he played with David Foster, Glen Campbell and Lee Greenwood. A well regarded session player, he’s recorded music for Royal Viking Cruise Lines, Disneyland, Hot Spots Music Library, KDOC-TV, and American Cable TV. Carter has also taught at various schools throughout Southern California.

“I’ve always felt that music often communicates better than words, and I’m always seeking to make that special connection,” he says. “I remember when I was first starting out, I looked out in the audience and saw a woman smiling at something I was playing. There was a certain warmth to her look that told me I was getting through to her on a emotional level. I feel that’s what God wants us to do, connect with others in any way we can.”

One of the best new CDs of 2001, Mark Carter’s exciting smooth jazz debut will no doubt connect with listeners eager for picture perfect melodies and an original performance style. Everyone who hears this music is bound to think of the many years he’s been performing and say, “Its About Time!”

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