In Concert – Bass legend Ron Carter

“Ron Carter is the most important bassist in the history of jazz. He’s also the most recorded with over 2200 recordings. Ron was part of Miles Davis’ 1960s quintet which featured Miles on the trumpet, George Coleman then Wayne Shorter on sax, Herbie Hancock on piano, and Tony Willams on drums.

He’s on the records ESP. Four & More, My Funny Valentine, Nefertiti, Miles Smiles. He has 30 solo albums. The list goes on. He’s on just about all of my favorite jazz albums.” – Producer, musician, and YouTuber, Rick Beato.

It’s hard to know where to begin with Carter but that quote is as good as any. He’s played on over 20 Miles albums. He’s played with everyone from Nat Adderly to Chet Baker to Gato Barbieri to George Benson to Alice Coltrane to McCoy Tyner. He occasionally steps out of jazz. He’s on Aretha’s Soul ’69. Billy Joel’s The Bridge, Paul Simon’s Paul Simon. He’s even on a Dan Hill album!!!

Ok, you get the idea. A little history courtesy of Wikipedia: Ron Carter was born in Ferndale, Michigan. He started to play cello at the age of 10 and switched to bass while in high school. He earned a B.A. in music from the Eastman School of Music (1959) and a master’s degree in music from the Manhattan School of Music (1961).

Carter’s first jobs as a jazz musician were playing bass with Chico Hamilton in 1959, followed by freelance work with Jaki Byard, Cannonball Adderley, Randy Weston, Bobby Timmons, and Thelonious Monk.

One of his first recorded appearances was on Hamilton alumnus Eric Dolphy’s Out There, recorded on August 15, 1960, and featuring George Duvivier on bass, Roy Haynes on drums, and Carter on cello. From there it was a short hop to Miles’ band.

When I heard Carter was coming to town, there was no fucking way I was gonna miss him. In a previous review I mentioned that there is a fine new club called Jimmy’s Jazz and Blues Club up in Portsmouth, NH. It’s about an hour’s ride for us north, mostly highway so it’s no big deal. Portsmouth has a bunch of nice restaurants and you can get food at the club as well.

The club has somewhat of an odd physical layout. I couldn’t get front and center but you’ll see from the video that we’re sitting over to the left of the stage. I only took one video because the band literally played three, maybe four songs, all of which were over 1/2 hour long.

In fact, in this video, after about 13 or 14 minutes, my phone stopped recording or maybe I hit a button, don’t know. Mostly the view of Carter is blocked by the sax player but he goes in and out.

The Ron Carter Quartet features Renee Rosnes on piano, Jimmy Greene on saxophone, and Payton Crossley on drums. I didn’t know Rosnes but she is a flaming wonder on the piano. Canadian like Oscar Peterson.

That was the only video I took but I found a few of the quartet recently. Here they are at the North Sea Jazz festival in Rotterdam earlier this year:

At the show, Carter told us that PBS had done a documentary on him and as luck would have it, it airs here in the US on October 21st. PBS streams much of its content online but I do not know if it goes outside the US.

Lastly, if you want to hear history from the man himself, here is his interview with Rick Beato:

17 thoughts on “In Concert – Bass legend Ron Carter

  1. Funny how I just sent you a piece on another bass player. Ron along with Ray Brown are all over my records. He looks great and is great. I wont bore you with to much but I remember reading that he left Miles when he went into the “Bitches” era. He didnt want to go that route. I like in the interview that he wouldnt just talk about Elvin and Tony, he had to mention the other great drummers he loved working with. He also confirms how good it was creatively to work with Davis.
    I dont look forward to to many music things anymore but that PBS thing will be on the must list for sure. Thanks. Dan Hill? I knew I liked the guy for a reason.

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    1. I knew CB would be all over this one. We were sitting at a table with a couple, the guy probably in his 70s. He just couldn’t believe he was in the room with the guy on all those records. Do you guys get PBS?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I was kidding. You know he’s just a punching bag for some of us bloggers. No PBS special. He may have some good tunes but that “Sometimes When We Touch” is the biggest piece of shit schmaltz I ever heard in my life. Sorry.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I know. Doc the kidder. Amazing how Ron came out so healthy. That jazz world was devastated by the drug culture. They invented it. Looking forward to the program.

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        3. BTW, to your comment about Carter bailing out on Miles’ electric adventure, while watching his show I was thinking about how I was hearing old school jazz. It was almost like taking out your 50s record collection and giving it a spin. I think your “no Jarrett” neighbor might well approve.

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        4. The thig bout Carter and that interview was it was about the music, nuts and bolts of playing gigs, sessions, throwing ideas around etc. I love that stuff. How cool is it that Ron at the time of ‘Bitches’ stayed the course with his exploring his sound and still mastering his bass in whatever vein he was following. So cool. As far as my neighbor, good guy but I dont talk much music with him, he’s locked into a certain opinion and thinks Oscar Peterson, Stan Getz etc are to out there. Im going to hold him down and give him a good dose of Cecil Taylor, Later Miles and some heavyweight Coltrane. That should fix him.

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        5. If you haven’t already, go to YouTube, type in Rick Beato and then look at his videos. Rick is a superb musician with (apart from my guitar teacher) the best ear in town. He was also a producer and now makes his living as a YouTuber. I first got attracted to his site by his series called “What Makes This Song Great” where he breaks down great songs. He has only recently started interviewing people and he’s so well known in the community, artists approach HIM. Sting’s people approached him, not the other way around. He also livestreams periodically. It’s wonky stuff that you think would only be for musicians but he’s got a lot of non-musician followers (and he has 3 million followers.) Check it out.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Played on over 2,200 recordings – mind-boggling! Played with Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Thelonious Monk and countless other artists inside and outside the jazz world – what an amazing career! And he’s now 85 and still performing – incredible! That upcoming PBS special looks very intriguing.

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    1. Yes. And I found out about it only because Carter proudly mentioned it. Highly recommend watching it. It’s gotta be great. And what an honor to see him.

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