I had the distinct pleasure to enjoy saxophonist Carl Grubbs's Quartet Series at Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Library. Longtime Maryland resident Grubbs brought the intensity and beautiful tone of his Philly roots to the varied program—"Blue Monk", "On a Misty Night", "In a Sentimental Mood", "Giant Steps"—that included originals "The Camp Song" and "Joy" written by his late brother and cofounder of The Visitors, Earl Grubbs.
– Charles Rahmat Woods
Grubbs has crafted a work of considerable color and depth in his Inner Harbor Suite; melodies, counter-melodies, blues elements of call and response, bebop rhythms, Afro-Cuban rhythms and avant-garde elements.
– Howard Mandel, DownBeat Magazine
The amazing jazz saxophonist Carl Grubbs debuted Inner Harbor Suite Revisited, a musical love letter to Baltimore. This re-imagined composition allowed Mr. Grubbs to experiment with a jazz/classical fusion and assemble an incredible group of musicians . . . the strings added a different feel and more colors to the music, notably on the tune “By and By,”which became a dramatic, bluesy, waltzing lullaby vividly bringing visions of the Inner Harbor to life. Grubbs’ fierce blowing on “Saturn,” one of his signature tunes, was a highlight, and “Barbara Dear” featured tenderly blown harmonies by Grubbs on a tune honoring his wife.
– Steve Monroe, BJA News, July 2015
Grubbs, winner of a 2014 Rubys Award and 2009 Baker Award, was in top form. The tone of his alto saxophone was sharp and biting right from the start of the opening tune, Tadd Dameron's "On a Misty Night.” . . . Back on alto, Grubbs fired up a soaring rendition of "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,” followed by a haunting version of "Soul Eyes.”
– Steve Monroe, BJA News, May 2015
The quartet takes the tonal centers of Trane’s “Giant Steps” as their shared springboard. Grubbs solos first, crafting a highly personalized tribute to the composer through a verbose series of high register note streams . . . bouts of impressive circular breathing in solo and tandem, but the extended reed techniques never compromise the musicality of their endeavors. “July” features the full quartet galloping through another of Grubb’s melodically charged creations Miles Davis’s “Four” supplies further fodder for spirited blowing and the quartet attacks the bop standard with a voracious improvisatory elán.
– Derek Taylor, Cadence Magazine