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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.

There is practically nothing that Ron Carter has not done, including actually playing second bass fiddle to Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
on Three Or Four Shades Of Blue, (Atlantic, 1977). Ever since the world shone a spotlight on the bassist when he graced the great quintet of Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, with Tony Williams
Tony Williams
Tony Williams
1945 - 1997
drums
, Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
and Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
, Carter has been recognized as one of the premier jazz bassists of the time. Many of his albums—including Uptown Conversation (Embryo/Atlantic, 1989), his trio recording with guitarist Herb Ellis
Herb Ellis
Herb Ellis
1921 - 2010
guitar
and Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
b.1943
piano
, Jazz, My Romance (Somethin' Else, 1994), and Mr. Bow Tie (Somethin' Else, 1995), with Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Gonzalo Rubalcaba
b.1963
piano
, among others—have already become minor classics. This appears where Ron Carter's Great Big Band is headed as well.

Taking a cue, it has been posited, from the bands of Gil Evans
Gil Evans
Gil Evans
1912 - 1988
composer/conductor
( in which Carter played), this one has been similarly crafted. There is, however, a marked absence of reeds such as flutes and only one double reed, the English Horn, and no oboe or bassoon. Remarkably the woodwinds and brass carry all of the weight here and the writing is sophisticated as well as wholesome. In many respects this is an old-fashioned Big Band, set up in traditional format, with even the bassist playing in the back. And Carter is once again at the top of his game. He plays with deep intonation; his time-keeping is flawless; and his sense of harmonics is majestic, as he carves a melodic bass line and tantalizing the band by continuously dancing around the root notes of the chords assigned to play. Occasionally he will shift the pulse and speed up the tempo, or brilliantly employ double-stops ("Footprints" and "Loose Change"), or even the accent, to alter the music's flavor. His walking is ever so elegant and when he solos the hush of the band is more in reverence than silence.

Carter has always been an extremely exciting soloist, playing notes that no-one could have predicted would belong to the harmonic progression. His angles are always sharp—acute or obtuse—and his lines are like palpitating hearts that occasionally alter in rhythm by skipping a beat or two. Musicians always hold their breaths as a result, but Carter always brings the song home. He does so here on many occasions, most notably on Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars "Con Alma," which Carter once played behind Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
and Stan Getz
Stan Getz
Stan Getz
1927 - 1991
sax, tenor
on another classic recording, Sweet Rain (Verve, 1967). Carter has also become like his old boss—a stickler for time—and has little patience for those who are not. But he is also one of the biggest advocates of young talent. Some of these musicians are in this band, including saxophonist Wayne Escoffery
Wayne Escoffery
Wayne Escoffery
b.1975
sax, tenor
, who turns up the heat by "fatbacking" on "Sweet Emma," along with trumpeter Alex Norris and baritone saxophonist Jay Brandford. But it is Carter who mostly steals the show, especially on John Lewis
John Lewis
John Lewis
b.1920
piano
' "The Golden Triangle," but on several other charts as well, on this exquisite album.

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

Personnel: Jerry Dudgeon: 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; Ton Kadleck: trumpet and flugelhorn; Greg Gisbert: trumpet and flugelhorn; Jon Owens: trumpet and flugelhorn; Alex Norris: trumpet and flugelhorn; Ron Carter: bass; Mulgrew Miller: piano; Lewis Nash: drums; Robert M. Freedman: arranger and conductor.

Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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