and composer Clifford Carter
has blazed his mark in the worlds of jazz, pop, rock n' roll, gospel
more. One of the music industry's most sought-after talents,
has performed and recorded with legendary artists ranging from Art
James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Carly Simon
Patti Scialfa to Chris Botti, Paul Simon, Betty Buckley, George Benson, Narada
Walden and Herbie Mann. His playing can be heard on film
television shows and commercials. He has been featured in a
range of musical contexts from symphony orchestras to David Letterman's
band. His songs have been recorded by Michael Franks, Phyllis
Vanessa Williams and The Four Tops, among others, and for his own solo
CD. He owns Secret Road Studios, a versatile production
where he plays, writes, arranges and produces.
played a starring role in Carter's
life from the very beginning. Born and raised in New York, he
taking piano lessons at six and formed his first band at
He initially performed in public as a singer until he got his first
keyboard when he was 13. After playing in numerous bands and
instrumental and vocal music in his high school years, Carter attended
the University of Miami's School of Music. During his college
his talent attracted the attention of the Miami music scene.
full-time professional career began at that time as he worked playing
clubs with local and national artists, among them Bobby Vinton, the
and Motown's legendary Four Tops.
offer to tour with The Four Tops
took him on the road for the first time. He spent a year with
Tops and recorded three albums with them. He next joined
artist Phyllis Hyman's band and returned to New York City in the
Quickly discovered by the New York session player elite, Carter became
an invaluable keyboardist playing on numerous record dates,
scores and commercial sessions. Some of the artists whose
he played on during that period include Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto,
Armatrading, Yusef Lateef, Don Cherry, Hank Crawford, and Idris
Already a favorite freelance keyboardist of many jazz and pop artists,
Carter was hired by Herbie Mann to tour with him, culminating in a
at the 1977 Montreux Jazz Festival.
friends Steve Jordan, Hiram Bullock
and Will Lee, Carter formed the 24th Street Band in 1978. He
one of the principal songwriters in the band, which made three records,
played regularly in New York City clubs and embarked on a successful
of tours in Japan.
the band broke up, Carter continued
working with many different artists throughout the 1980s.
the highlights included touring, recording and writing with
Michael Franks and touring with British art-rocker Bryan Ferry.
1982, Carter joined drummer Danny
Gottlieb, bassist Mark Egan and saxophonist Bill Evans in a new
quartet, Elements. They recorded five critically-acclaimed
performed and toured. Carter also worked with Evans (a former
Davis sideman) playing on several of Evans' solo recordings, often
as producer and writer, including The Alternative Man, Push,
and the 2005 Grammy-nominated Soulgrass.
1990, Carter began a long association
with singer/songwriter James Taylor as a member of his touring and
band. Carter's long-time friend and colleague Don Grolnick
and musical director for the band at the time, and after playing a
role to Grolnick as the second keyboardist, Carter became the sole
when Grolnick tragically passed away in 1996. He
the band through 2001, playing acoustic piano and electronic keyboards.
He worked on numerous Taylor releases, including the 1997
Pop Album of the Year, Hourglass.
recorded Walkin' Into the
Sun, his only solo recording to date, which was released in
described as "one of the most engaging surprises of the year" by Jazziz
Magazine and "a showcase for the keyboardist's excellent
by Jazz Times. The CD, a jazz/pop hybrid,
vocal and instrumental songs with a top supporting cast of musicians
Steve Rodby, Will Lee, Mark Egan, Bob Sheppard, Luis Conte and
from Carter's busy schedule with
James Taylor, other highlights of his work throughout the 1990s
recording with singer/songwriter Martin Sexton, touring and recording
Rosanne Cash, and recording with long-time friend and E Street Band
favorite of Late Night with David
Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer, he often sits in with the
accompany the show's guest artists, and he's subbed for Shaffer as
He has accompanied a variety of artists on television programs ranging
from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Saturday Night Live, The
Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Regis and Kathy Lee, Late Night with
O'Brien, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The View
to Rosie O'Donnell's
1999 Christmas special and VH1's Storytellers and
Request. Among these artists are Al Green, Jewel,
the Black Crowes, Smokey Robinson, the B-52's, Rufus Wainwright, the
Little Richard, BB King, Lyle Lovett, Cher, LeAnn Rimes, Vanessa
Michael McDonald and many others.
has played at star-studded music
events such as the 1985 reopening of the Apollo Theater ("Motown at the
Apollo"), tributes to artists including Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and
Berry at the Kennedy Center Honors, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
Rainforest Benefit in New York City, and Oprah Winfrey's "A Bridge To
celebration honoring 25 legendary African-American women, the concert for the 1st Annual Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honoring Paul Simon, and Fashion Rocks at Radio City Music Hall.
keyboard work has contributed to
numerous film scores including You've Got Mail, A Chorus
Line, The Object
of My Affection, The Muppets Take Manhattan, and the recent
year since 1993, Carter has been
a featured pianist in the performance of "Too Hot To Handel," an
gospel/jazz adaptation of Handel's Messiah with several
He has performed this work with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra
by Marin Alsop for the last eleven years, and a live recording of the
performance was released in 2005. This is his third year performing "Too Hot to Handel" with The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
recent years, Carter has toured Europe
with Bill Evans, appeared with the Ralph MacDonald Band at the Pan
Festival in Trinidad, performed at the Oak Room
at the Algonquin with Broadway star Melissa Errico, recorded with
singer/songwriter Suzy Bogus, recorded and arranged for Kiss drummer
Criss, and toured the Czech Republic and Slovac Republic with Czech
also appeared on Patti Scialfa's
critically acclaimed 23rd Street Lullaby, released
in 2004 and toured
with her that same year. In 2005, he made numerous television
with Dolly Parton, performed in concert with Betty Buckley and trumpet
player Chris Botti, and toured Australia with Bette Midler.
also the musical director for Decca recording artist Russell Watson's
at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square in October of 2005.
2006, Carter began working with legendary singer Art Garfunkel, and continues to perform regularly with him both at home and abroad.
2009 highlights include appearing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland with Little Anthony and the Imperials and Bobby Womack, touring the United States with Art Garfunkel, concerts with Betty Buckley, performances of "Too Hot to Handel" with The Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and recording a soon to be released CD with leader/drummer Chris Parker.
Carter continues to participate in a variety of musical settings from clubs to concert halls around the world, to television appearances and recording sessions. All these of course are his hobby - his main job is to raise his three daughters with occasional time out to watch the river flow.