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Ron Carter's Great Big Band: Ron Carter's Great Big Band (2011)

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Ron Carter's Great Big Band: Ron Carter's Great Big Band How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Bassist Ron Carter rode to high profile during his stint with trumpeter Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
' second great quintet, the stellar mid-1960s ensemble that also included pianist Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
, drummer Tony Williams
Tony Williams
Tony Williams
1945 - 1997
drums
and saxophonist Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
—all of whom, like Carter, went on to create great things. Carter also used the opportunity afforded by the Davis boost to become something of a super side sideman, appearing on hundreds of albums led by an array of fellow artists, as well as dozens of his own, including the outstanding small group efforts Golden Striker, (Blue Note Records, 2003), and Dear Miles (EMI, 2006).

Carter has never led a big band outing, until now. With charts by esteemed arranger Robert M. Freedman, Carter leads a seventeen-piece ensemble through a set of jazz standards on Ron Carter's Great Big Band, from the much-covered Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
vehicle, "Caravan," to trumpeter Tom Harrell
Tom Harrell
Tom Harrell
b.1946
trumpet
's "Sail Away" and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
's "Con Alma."

Carter put out an excellent small group outing this millennium, When Skies Are Grey (Blue Note Records, 2001). The cover art—a photo of a grey clad, regal-looking Carter gazing over a drab cityscape at overcast skies—had a limited color spectrum, and the music leaned toward the serious side, as much of the classically-trained Carter's art does, but Ron Carter's Great Big Band is a bright, colorful experience, from the rainbow-ish cover art and the dancing sparkle of W.C. Handy
W.C. Handy
W.C. Handy
1873 - 1958
arranger
's "Saint Louis Blues," to the joyful ebullience and New Orleans tinted cover of trumpeter Nat Adderley
Nat Adderley
Nat Adderley
1931 - 2000
trumpet
's "Sweet Emma" and the pastel elegance swirling over the trombone section's dark backdrop on the bassist's own "Loose Change."

The band's drive train—the rhythm section of pianist Mulgrew Miller
Mulgrew Miller
Mulgrew Miller
1955 - 2013
piano
and drummer Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
b.1958
drums
, along with Carter—is as solid as they come. Carter's bass rides higher in the mix than is normally heard on a large ensemble set---a big, warm, inexorable heartbeat inside the flash and cool washes of brass and reeds.

"Footprints," penned by Carter's former Davis cohort, Wayne Shorter, and included on the saxophonist's Adams' Apple (Blue Note, 1966) as well as Davis' Miles Smiles (Columbia, 1967)—on which Carter played— maintains its ominous mood here, with splashier harmonics afforded from the multiple horns, while John Lewis
John Lewis
John Lewis
b.1920
piano
' "The Golden Striker" gets a jaunty, upbeat treatment.

Like saxophonist Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
1937 - 2001
sax, tenor
and his outstanding Big Band (Verve, 1997), Carter has taken his first shot at leading a large group later in his career, and he's produced a gem with Ron Carter's Great Big Band.


Track Listing: Caravan; The Eternal Triangle; Pork Chop; Opus 1.5 (Theme for C.B.); Con Alma; Sail Away; Opus 1; Sweet Emma; Saint Louis Blues; Line for Lyons; Footprints; The Golden Striker; Loose Change.

Personnel: Robert M. Freedman: arranger and musical director; John Dodgion: alto and soprano saxophones; Steve Wilson: alto saxophone; Wayne Escoffery: tenor saxophone; Scott Robinson: tenor saxophone; Jay Brandford: baritone saxophone; Charles Pillow: English horn; Jason Jackson: trombone; Steve Davis: trombone; James Burton III: trombone; Douglas Purviance: bass trombone; Tony Kadleck: trumpet, flugelhorn; Greg Gisbert: trumpet, fluglehorn; Jon Owens: trumpet, fluglehorn; Alex Norris: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ron Carter: bass; Mulgrew Miller: piano; Lewis Nash: drums.

Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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