(click to enlarge artwork)
If your friends want to know 'what type of stuff' is on the CD...just tell them it's 'great music.'
--Billy Novick

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purchasing Better Late)

1. Buckets of Rain
(Bob Dylan) 4:42
2. Mack the Knife
(Brecht/Weill/Blitzstein) 4:04
3. RI Is Famous For You
(Schwartz/Dietz) 3:22
4. Miss Otis
(Cole Porter) 5:00
5. When I'm 64
(Lennon/McCartney) 3:12
6. All My Trials
(Traditional) 4:02
7. O Grande Amor
(Jobim/de Moraes)
How Insensitive
(Jobim/Gimbel/de Moraes) 4:28
8. House of the Rising Sun
(Traditional) 6:04
9. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
(R.Rogers/L.Hart) 3:28
10. Spring Is Here
(R.Rogers/L.Hart) 3:54
11. My Hometown
(Springsteen) 4:57
12. Seresta
(Azvedo) 3:54
13. When It's Sleepytime Down South
(Rene,Rene,& Muse) 3:57

What kind of music do you like?

I grew up loving all different kinds of music. I didn't know the names of some of the types of music I liked. Please forgive me, but I didn't even know that music needed to be referred to by genre. I just liked good music'I didn't care what people called it!

As a performing musician, I realize that the public wants to know what kind of music it can expect to hear. Is it jazz, funk, folk, rock, blues, world music, roots music, classical, avant-garde'? Everyone seems to want a simple label. What if, as a performer, you want to play all different kinds of music? Especially if you play all these different genres of music well? And I mean REALLY well!

'Ladies and gentlemen (insert fanfare here), please meet... Larry Carsman!' Larry is an extraordinary musician. Look at the contents of this album! How many artists have songs from Bruce Springsteen, Richard Rogers and Antonio Carlos Jobim together on the same CD ? What musicians list Buddy Guy, Blossom Dearie, Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, Jo'o Gilberto and Julian Bream as major influences?

Larry covers all this musical ground, and he does it effortlessly, as if he was raised in all these different musical cultures. He is not a jazz singer thinking it would be 'cool' to do a Bob Dylan song, or a rocker that does a three-chord version of a Cole Porter song. Larry makes each song his own. Because he has such a deep knowledge, respect and love of so many types of music, each song sounds genuine, soulful, and unique. There's no loss of a song's emotion or integrity when Larry performs it- in fact, the songs become much richer because of his imaginative, nuanced interpretations.

This is Larry's first release as a solo artist. I've known him for close to 35 years, as a musical soulmate and a good friend. Over those 35 years, I've seen Larry's music develop and mature to a level that still surprises me. The straight-ahead jazz has gotten more sophisticated, the Brazilian music has become more authentic; all the songs are sung with more conviction. Everything he plays now sounds like it's his own song. It all works!

As for the title, why not Better Late? I think of this recording not as fine, aged wine, but rather a glorious stew. If you taste it too early, you might think,' Hmm, I'm not sure about the rosemary...and maybe there are too many carrots?' But if you wait, and let it simmer for quite a while longer, everything blends together perfectly. You know all the ingredients are in there, and you can taste them all a bit, but the amazing thing is how all these varied ingredients can create something so exquisite.

So there you have it. Better Late - our delicious musical stew! I hope you enjoy the music and appreciate all the care, knowledge, and love that went into it. And if your friends want to know 'what type of stuff' is on the CD, I've even come up with a catchy, descriptive, two-word 'marketing' phrase'

Just tell them it's 'great music.'

Billy Novick
Lexington, MA
January, 2008

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( Click here to hide album notes... )

When I was a teenager, one of my favorite activities was to leave school a little early (maybe cut a class or two) and go browsing at Discount Records in downtown Detroit. Although my budget would limit my purchases to 1 or 2 "cutouts" (2 bucks apiece), I would spend hours studying the liner notes of hundreds of great records. In retrospect, I probably learned more about music there than I did in any of my music lessons or courses. I always envisioned my own album with glowing descriptions of my talents on the back. It would also have extensive notes where some critic (preferably Nat Hentoff) would explain the incredibly insightful arrangements of each tune.

As I began to plan out the graphic layout of "Better Late" I realized that the space limitations precluded my teenage fantasy (one of many). The current convention of posting song lyrics made no sense since none of the songs are mine. I tried to write my own glowing description, but after several weeks of trying to write something that didn't sound like an apology, I got my friend, collaborator (and coincidentally the album's producer) Billy Novick to write the piece we eventually used.

As we expanded this web page, it occurred to me that there's space for anything I want. Sadly, Nat Hentoff is no longer available, but at least I can have my say.

-- Larry

'Buckets of Rain' is a tune I've played with off and on for 30 years. I never owned any recording of it; I worked it from a 'Bob Dylan Greatest Hits' book. I originally tried to funk it up, which went nowhere. When we started treating it as a lullaby, it fell right into place. This arrangement reminds me of Ritchie Havens.

("Buckets of Rain" sample:  )

After hearing an early mix of our version of 'Mack the Knife', the talented Bulgarian string bassist Peter Slavov told me that it 'sounded like Kurt Weil'. Like the rest of us, he had played the Bobby Darin/Louis Armstrong for couples swinging around the floor at countless engagements, and he was amazed to learn the tune actually was (and always had been) by Kurt Weil. I scoffed when Billy first suggested it, but after he insisted, I spent a weekend 'getting nasty' with it. I am particularly proud of the guitar part and the modulation back to the original key at the end.

("Mack the Knife" sample:  )

I learned/stole 'Rhode Island is Famous For You' from the great singer and pianist Blossom Dearie. Apparently, the original was Coney instead of Rhode Island. As such, I dedicate it to my Brooklyn born mother, even though we didn't revert to the former lyric. The killer arrangement is totally Billy's. It's the only song that I played on my Gibson electric all the way through. The solos were done on the classical guitar.

'Miss Otis Regrets' was another of Billy's suggestions. I don't think he was thinking of doing this so slowly, but I insisted. Jeff Galindo's trombone chorus still the gives me shivers. One of my goals is to replace a keyboard with a nylon string guitar when doing jazz and standards, and I am really pleased with the results here. FYI, all of the tracks with guitar and rhythm section were recorded live.

The idea to cover 'When I'm 64' came to me as I was walking my beloved Dylan in his later days. It made me realize how these words had lost their cute and were now hitting awfully close to home. As I walked on, I started to sing it in a neo-Bessie Smith style. It occurred to me that, had she lived long enough, this was exactly the kind of novelty song she would have recorded. Throughout the arrangement and recording process, we asked ourselves 'What would Bessie do?' I still do. It's amazing what both you and your dog can accomplish during a walk.

The arrangement for 'All My Trials' came shortly after moving to St. Thomas. Joan Baez popularized this song, and practically every girl folksinger (including my sister) was singing it in 1965. The 'Reprints from Sing Out' book I found it in claimed it was a Georgia Sea Island lullaby, so I thought it make sense in the West Indies. It never really did but the arrangement stayed in my head. Billy and I reworked it some more, and it makes sense now. Whenever I play it, I think of Nina Simone.

("All My Trials" sample:  )

I wanted to call the Bossa medley 'Tom Jobim Looks at Love' but every Jobim song fits that description. An arrangement for 'O Grande Amor' eluded me forever, but once I moved it to B minor, it just came together. I have played bossa nova since I started playing guitar, but I never really sang one ('The Girl from Ipanema' doesn't count.) We tried several but my Portuguese is non-existent (ask me about Rio sometime) and the English versions left us somewhat under whelmed. But 'How Insensitive' really clicked. This recording includes the lowest note (F#) I have ever sung.

("O Grande Amor / How Insensitive" sample:  )

Since 'The House of the Rising Sun' is set in New Orleans, I wanted to do it in a traditional jazz style. Billy, master clarinetist that he is, jumped all over it. Tony Pringle and Billy are both members of the fabulous New Black Eagle Jazz Band and Bill Reynolds often serves as their drummer. They and bassist Dave Clark are totally awesome and their playing on this take was phenomenal. We did it live (including vocal) and never looked back. A word about gender'this song is usually done with male pronouns. The middle verses, however, all refer to a gambling, drinking, lover who is (to me) clearly male My take is that the singer, either male or female, would refer to themselves as a 'she' or a 'poor girl' regardless of their equipment.

("The House of the Rising Sun" sample:  )

'I Didn't Know What Time It Was' is just a great song. I love singing it and I love playing it. Through the magic of modern recording, Billy fills out the band behind his chorus, and I fill it out behind mine. This is the only other use of electric guitar on the CD. I probably shouldn't rave about the great arrangement, especially the imperceptible solo chorus modulations and the descending line in the last chorus, but I can't help myself. However, I freely admit that I stole the last vocal bit straight from Sarah Vaughn.

I did the arrangement for 'Spring Is Here' after my friend Hankus Netsky accused me of not really playing jazz. What could be jazzier than arranging a standard tune in five?

I first tried singing 'My Hometown' as a 'dinner set' number when I was on the Metro Boston Chinese Restaurant Top-40 circuit. It didn't resonate with mid-80's pu-pu platter set much, but it was always in the back of my mind to record it. After several visits back to Detroit and then a visit to Wilkes-Barre PA (my Father's birthplace), it moved front and center. This version is dedicated to my cousin Joe, who sold me my first guitar, and his family. They still live in Wilkes-Barre. It was recorded completely live.

("My Hometown" sample:   )

I like to think of choro as Brazilian bluegrass. When a friend of my partner in C & B, flautist Peter Bloom sent us some sheet music from Sao Paulo, we both immediately fell in love with it. Included in that package was a copy of the greatest hits of Walter Azvedo. We recorded several of his tunes, including 'Seresta' on our CD 'Amorosa'. This is my arrangement for just guitar. In both this and 'O Grande Amor', it is clear how much I owe to the late, great Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell.

("Seresta" sample:  )

'Sleepytime Down South' is another tune I started doing in the Virgin Islands. It was (and still is) the farthest south I've ever lived. It was, for a time, Louis Armstrong's theme song. I wish it could be mine.