Ron Carter Nonet: Eight Plus (2003)
The timing is definitely appropriate for the release of the Ron Carter Nonet's 1990 record Eight Plus, with today's seemingly resurgence of octets, nonets, and mid-size jazz groups. Mr. Carter adds a twist by featuring his skills on the piccolo bass. Combine a quartet of cellos with a horn-less jazz quintet, and the compositions stretch far beyond the typical jazz environment.
Ron Carter is a jazz icon whose talent and vision speaks volumes. He has performed on hundreds of recordings, including dates with jazz greats from Thelonious Monk and Eric Dolphy to younger cats such as Ravi Coltrane and Wynton Marsalis. More noted for his exemplary skill and depth on the standard upright bass, he occasionally plays and records with the piccolo, which is pitched somewhere between cello and contrabass.
With its distinct sound, the piccolo is a choice instrument for the solo spotlight. Mr. Carter's playing is lyrical and moving, as the piccolo carves out the melody while the jazz quintet carries the rhythm. The strings add depth and ambience on "First Trip" and the blues rhapsody "A Blues for Bradley." The compositions are as diverse as the instrumentation. "El Rompe Cabeza" features a pulsating flamenco rhythm with Carter's soloing bow on the piccolo. The rhythm section works well, featuring Leon Maleson on upright bass, and Lewis Nash on drums. Steven Scott fills in with nice piano comping and occasionally adds his soloing talents, while Steve Kroon brings subtle percussion touches throughout. For a Nonet recording of a slightly different breed, Eight Plus is worth a listen.
Track Listing: Eight; A Blues for Bradley; Little Waltz; O.K.; A Song For You; First Trip; El Rompe Cabeza; A Closer Walk With Thee.
Personnel: Ron Carter: piccolo bass; Stephen Scott: piano; Leon Maleson: bass; Lewis Nash: drums; Steve Kroon: percussion; Kermit Moore: cello; Chase Morrison: cello; Carol Buck: cello; Rachel Steurmann: cello.