Real Gone is continuing its exploration of the Black Jazz Records label with two reissues from Doug Carn. The multi-instrumentalist/composer was the label’s most prolific artist, recording four albums from 1971-1974. The two most recently addressed by Real Gone are 1973’s Revelation, which was released last Friday (May 21), and 1971’s Infant Eyes, due on June 11. He was joined on both albums by his then-wife Jean Carn (later Carne) who provided vocals.
Doug Carn, born in Florida in 1948, studied oboe and composition at college, but he soon became skilled on other instruments, especially the piano and organ. In demand as a sideman, he formed the Doug Carn Trio and signed to Savoy, releasing an album in 1969. Shortly thereafter, he met and married Jean Perkins, who began to perform with him as a vocalist. The pair moved to California and contributed to Earth, Wind & Fire’s first two Warner Bros. albums in 1971. That same year, they signed to Black Jazz Records.
Wanting to incorporate more modern musical forms in vocal jazz, their debut for the label, Infant Eyes, was released in 1971. They were backed on the album by drummer Michael Carvin, saxophonist/flautist George Harper, trombonist Al Hall, Jr., trumpeter Bob Frazier, and bassist Henry Franklin (who also recorded two albums as a leader for Black Jazz). The album featured one Doug Carn original, “Moon Child,” and six covers. Perhaps most interestingly, Doug added lyrics to four of those covers: Bobby Hutcherson’s “Little B’s Poem,” Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes,” John Coltrane’s “Acknowledgement (A Love Supreme)” and Horace Silver’s “Peace.” The album became an underground hit and had two singles released (of only a handful the label ever released). The first was “Moon Child.” The second single of “Peace” and “Little B’s Poem” was credited to Jean even though she had not received billing on the album’s cover.
That would change by the time of the couple’s second album. 1972’s Spirit of the New Land included a “Featuring the voice of Jean Carn” line on the cover. That continued with their third album, Revelation, from 1973. The supporting players included trumpeter Olu Dara, saxophonist Rene McLean, bassist Walter Booker, and drummer Ira Williams. This time, the album was much heavier on Doug Carn originals, which made up six of the nine tracks. The three non-Carn-penned cuts were John Coltrane’s “Naima,” McCoy Tyner’s “Contemplation,” and Rene McLean’s “Jihad.”
Doug and Jean Carn would soon split and divorce. She was not featured on his final album for Black Jazz: 1974’s Adam’s Apple. He would convert to Islam and change his name to Abdul Rahim Ibrahim when recording for his own label in 1977. Subsequently deciding to focus on being a sideman, he would not return to solo work until 1990 (where he went back to being billed as Doug Carn). Jean signed with Philadelphia International Records in 1976 and went on to be successful in R&B for labels such as Motown, Omni, and Atlantic (she eventually changed her last name to Carne). Beginning in 2010, Doug and Jean reunited for several live performances and tours.
Real Gone’s reissues of Infant Eyes and Revelation both feature remastering by Mike Milchner of Sonic Vision. Each also includes an essay by Pat Thomas, author of Listen Whitey! The Sights & Sounds of Black Power 1968-1975. Both are available in a variety of formats: CD, regular black vinyl and an orange with black swirl colored vinyl limited to 500 copies, and exclusive to indie record stores.
If you would like to give either of these titles a try, we’ve got the ordering links below. Revelation is out now and Infant Eyes will be available June 11.
Doug Carn, Infant Eyes (Originally released as Black Jazz Records LP BJ/3, 1971 – reissued Real Gone Music, 2021)
- Little B’s Poem
- Moon Child
- Infant Eyes
- Passion Dance
- Acknowledgement (A Love Supreme)
Doug Carn Featuring the Voice of Jean Carn, Revelation (Originally released by Black Jazz Records LP BJQD/16, 1973 – reissued Real Gone Music, 2021)
- God Is One
- Power and Glory
- Feel Free
- Time Is Running Out