Apparently Arabic inspired (and sung in places!) spiritual soul/jazz album, recorded after leaving the Black Jazz label in the late 70's...groovy stuff with epic production. Slightly in the vein of John Lucian...out there!!!Born in New York in 1948, Doug Carn is brought up in Florida by his mother who teaches music in the American school system. Completely naturally, he starts to play classical piano at the age of 5, then alto saxophone at 8 years old under the influence of his uncle who is a DJ and a jazz fan. When he is 14, Doug forms his first professional R’n’B band, The Nutones, which performs in clubs and music shows all over Florida and southern Georgia. At the same time, he becomes the regular organist at his church in the town of St Augustine. He finishes top of his class in high school and is offered a place at the US Air Force Academy, which he turns down in order to study composition and the oboe at the University of Jacksonville.
He very quickly gains a reputation on the local and national jazz scene for his exceptional skills as an arranger and for his musical knowledge, and plays with Lou Donaldson and Stanley Turrentine. Doug signed with Savoy in 1968 in Atlanta before He and Jean (his wife) moved to L.A. (Hollywood), then moved to New York in April 1972 because they could not get work in LA even though ‘Infant Eyes’ was being played regularly on the radio. Doug met Larry Young in 1970 in Hollywood and their relationship continued after moving to New York. However, the historic label, Savoy, disappears just after doug’s record is released and it therefore suffers from an almost complete lackof distribution. That’s in Los Angeles where the pianist and producer Gene Russell is won over by the vocal adaptations of contemporary jazz standards by Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Bobby Hutcherson he writes for his partner, the jazz singer Jean Carn. The militant label Black Records quickly brings out 4 albums by Doug Carn and his group, which is made up of Olu Dara, Michael Carvin, Walter Booker, Charles Tolliver and Al Mouzon. These 4 albums of political and spiritual jazz are a great critical and commercial success (in 1974, according to Billboard, Doug Carn sells more albums than either Dave Brubeck or Ramsey Lewis).
Doug converted to Islam in 1970 in LA at the Islamic Center on St. Andrews Place before it moved to Vermont avenue. Muhsin El Biali was the Imam that gave him Shahada.
In 1974, Doug and Jean Carn separate. Jean Carn(e) pursues a successful soul and disco career (“Don’t Let It Go To Your Head”), while continues his spiritual and musical quest, which results two years later in the release of this amazing, self-produced album, “Al Rahman, Cry of the Floridian Tropic Son”.
Al Rahman "Cry of the Floridian Tropic Son" was a cultural experiment. It was designed to communicate certain ideas to a few people. It was never meant to be a commercial venture. Far from the fundamentalist practices he criticises in his sleeve notes, on this album he experiments with a fusion of his Afro-American musical roots of gospel, soul and jazz with Islamic culture. The result is surprising, blending the emotional depth of Coltranian jazz and the smoothness of Californian soul as in the magnificent, hypnotic vocal version of Al Rahman, the 55th sura of the Quran. Devotional and funky, the tracks on Doug Carn’s album alternate between moments of pure funk like “Balancez Calinda”, an ode to disco’s New Orleans roots, and magnificent soul-jazz songs such as “Tropic Sons”. This creative and moving record from another planet, which refuses to bow to any notion of good taste, will fizzle out and the album was until now known only to a handful of collectors of “vinyl surprises”.
Doug leaves California behind and goes to teach for one year at the Jazz Studies department of the University of Jacksonville. He performs in Savannah , Georgia where he ran his own club" Adagio". He plays in New York City at least twice a year at clubs like Iridium, Jazz Standard and Birdland.
Rediscovered after fifteen years in the wilderness by the acid-jazz generation at the beginning of the 90s and covered by the English group Galliano, Doug Carn has since then taken on cult status for the children of hip-hop and Coltrane, who can identify themselves with the pianist and singer’s direct, conscious music. The vision that is presented in this album of an authentic but tolerant “jazzed-up” Islam is still eccentric 30 years later, but is just as necessary as ever.