319

Ron Carter: Pick 'Em/Super Strings

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Ron Carter: Pick 'Em/Super Strings Ron Carter’s place in the preeminent line of master jazz bassists is unassailable. Possessing a gargantuan technique he’s been a prominent bandleader and session man since his start in the late 1950s. Where he’s come under justifiable critical fire over the years is in his at times lamentable choice of projects. The two Milestone dates gathered on this recent two-fer unfortunately add ammunition to the claims.

Pick ‘Em matches Carter’s piccolo bass, a custom upright tuned to just below cello range, with a piano trio plus guitar and a quartet of cellos. Cycling through five originals and the appropriately bass-heavy standard “All Blues” the group plays tastefully, but from the start Carter hoards the spotlight and refuses to relinquish it. Every tune serves a feature for his nimble fingers and/or resonant bow and his melodic bass-centric musings are likely to try the patience of all but the most die-hard aficionados of the instrument. Things come to an early indulgent head on “B and A” where he overdubs himself in tandem on bass and its lighter cousin. His playing, while absorbing on a technical level, often seems to favor flash over substance. The saccharine phalanx of cellos doesn’t help matters and their histrionics, mixed with wah-wah guitar and wailing harmonica on the Countrified title track end up sounding like some kind of mutant “Sanford and Son” theme. Barron, Williams and Riley try to make the most of their truncated roles, but sound ill at ease filling in the few blanks left them.

Sadly Super Strings falls even further short of the mark. Hiring on an entire string orchestra Carter takes a stab at placing his virtuosity in front of a lushly orchestrated backdrop and ends up with bromidic mood music. “Bom Dia” wallows in pseudo Bossa rhythms buoyed by thickly amplified bass and cocktail piano. “Don’t Misunderstand” lands dangerously close to 101 Strings territory lilting along on satiny stream of spineless melodic flourishes. Carter’s instrument is again over-amplified and an excess of echo muddies the nuances of his ensuing pizzicato solo. Once again he insists on being the center of attention and while his first few improvisations are interesting, after a dozen or so they lose the majority of their luster. As if in answer to his employer’s grandstanding DeJohnette’s listless cymbal accents illustrate just how bored he seems with the pedestrian requirements of the session. Carter’s career ranks among the most prolific in jazz, and as such the overproduction and narcissism that spoil this a date make it one best left a forgotten entry.

Milestone on the web: http://www.fantasyjazz.com


Track Listing: All Blues/ Opus 2/ B and A/ Pick

Personnel: Ron Carter- piccolo bass, bass; Kenny Barron- piano; Buster Williams- bass; Ben Riley- drums; Kermit Moore, Charles McCracken, John Abramowitz, Richard Locker- cellos; Hugh McCracken- guitar, harmonica; Ralph McDonald- percussion; John Tropea- guitar; Jack DeJohnette- drums; Ralph McDonald- percussion; Sanford Allen- concertmaster; Harry Cykman, Kenneth Gordon, Glenn Dicterow, John Pintavalle, Marion Pinheiro, Sandra Billingslea, Richard Young, Alfio Micci, Stanley Hunte, Lamar Alsop, Maxine Roach, Jesse Levine, Harry Zaratzian- violins, violas; Kermit Moore, Eugene Moye, Jr.- cellos; Leon Maleson- bass. Recorded: December 1978, Englewood Cliffs, NJ and April 14-15, 1981, NYC.

Title: Pick 'Em/Super Strings | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ask Seek Knock CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Air and Light and Time and Space CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Alto Manhattan" CD/LP/Track Review Alto Manhattan
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 15, 2016
Read "Blues Revival" CD/LP/Track Review Blues Revival
by James Nadal
Published: August 18, 2016
Read "Windows" CD/LP/Track Review Windows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "Chapter Five" CD/LP/Track Review Chapter Five
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "Boss Tenor" CD/LP/Track Review Boss Tenor
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: July 20, 2016
Read "Landed in Brooklyn" CD/LP/Track Review Landed in Brooklyn
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 3, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.