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Ron Carter: Stardust (2003)

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Ron Carter: Stardust No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

In an ever-expanding career encompassing nearly 3000 projects, jazz bassist Ron Carter has surrounded himself with some of the best musicians. Carter's latest album, Stardust, continues that tradition.

Joining Carter in the studio are Benny Golson on tenor sax, Joe Locke on vibraphone, Sir Roland Hanna on piano, and Lenny White on drums. This quintet delivers excellent performances of songs from Carter, George and Ira Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael, and the late renowned jazz bassist Oscar Pettiford. Pettiford found himself in New York during bebop's infancy in the early 1940s, landing gigs with Erroll Garner, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach, Coleman Hawkins, and Roy Eldridge.

In 1945, Pettiford succeeded Jimmy Blanton in Duke Ellington's band, where he stayed for three years. During a stint with Woody Herman's band, Pettiford was also the first to bring the cello into jazz. Pettiford moved to Europe in 1958 and worked with Stan Getz, Kenny Clarke and Bud Powell. Two years later, he died unexpectedly.

Carter wanted to showcase Pettiford's songwriting styles, and his choices — "Tamalpais," "Bohemia After Dark" and "Blues in the Closet"—are right on the mark. "Tamalpais" jumps back and forth between a swing and Latin feel, Golson and Locke providing the opening dueling melodies as well as solos. "Bohemia After Dark," which also flirts with the Latin feel but sticks with swing, features a solo from Carter where traces of other songs seem to sneak in. The last of the three, "Blues in the Closet," features piano, bass and drums taking a bluesy swing feel.

The Carter-penned "Nearly" is a rhythm section's dream and nightmare. For the most part, White keeps a slow, normal 4/4 swing beat, but he'll occasionally switch to a fast double-time. When Golson, Hanna, and Locke take solos, they also switch between pulses almost effortlessly. To close the disc, Carter and Hanna perform a spellbinding rendition of Carmichael's "Stardust," with Carter performing the melody under Hanna's gentle chords. It's a fitting end to an album that only took a day to record, which alone is a testament to the unbelievable chops of Carter and company.

Reprinted with permission from The Villages Daily Sun in Lady Lake, Fla.

Track Listing: Tamalpais; The Man I Love; Nearly; Bohemia After Dark; Tail Feathers; Blues in the Closet; That's Deep; Stardust.

Personnel: Ron Carter, bass; Benny Golson, tenor sax; Joe Locke, vibraphone; Sir Roland Hanna, piano; Lenny White, drums

Record Label: Blue Note Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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