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Ron Carter & the Foursight Quartet at Barcelona Jazz Festival

Ron Carter & the Foursight Quartet at Barcelona Jazz Festival

Courtesy Hal Masonberg


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Ron Carter and the Foursight Quartet
Voll Damm Festival Jazz Barcelona at Paral-el 62
November 9, 2023

Ron Carter and his ensemble, the Foursight Quartet, recently performed on November 9th at the prestigious Voll Damm Festival Jazz Barcelona, a global benchmark for jazz music. The festival offers various activities that cater to music aficionados and enthusiasts alike.

With contributions to more than 2,200 recordings to his name, legendary virtuoso Ron Carter is one of the most innovative, accomplished, and prolific bassists in the history of jazz music, as his technical dexterity and versatility are a earmark of the genre.

The musician's trailblazing influence on the sound of jazz bass and the evolution of the modern jazz rhythm section had left an indelible mark, as is especially evident in the work of numerous jazz titans, including Miles Davis in the mid-60s, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter—mid-'70s—Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson in the late 70s, Chick Corea in the 80s, and Cedar Walton in the '90s, to name a few. Indeed, his imprint encompasses the aural landscapes he fashioned for his fellow musicians as his profound contributions echo through history, shaping the essence of the genre.

Unsurprisingly, the show at Paral.lel 62 was a complete sell-out. On the tepid autumn evening, an overflow of jazz enthusiasts and fans eagerly awaited their turn to enter the historic venue. Founded in 1892, the auditorium is located on the ground floor of a tall modern building in the heart of the legendary Avenida Paralel. Upon entering the theater, the audience was enveloped in a warm, intimate environment while eagerly anticipating the beginning of the concert.

Following a brief introduction—in which the host explained that Carter debuted in Barcelona with Wayne Shorter in '67—the room fell quiet in collective reverence as the Foursight Quartet stepped into the limelight, emanating an aura of elation. The atmosphere was thrilling, with palpable energy pervading the room. Composed by award—winning stellar musicians, premier pianist Renee Rosnes, influential drummer Payton Crossley, and innovative tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene, the ensemble oozed sartorial elegance, donning polished dark suits, red ties, and pocket handkerchiefs—while the bandleader stood out with a red and violet multicolored tie and white pocket handkerchief. The quartet took a group bow as the spectators burst into a round of applause before the performance commenced.

As soon as the musicians sat, Carter exchanged a swift glance with Rosnes and opened the concert with the silky smooth, albeit syncopated "595." The remarkable cohesion among the performers was evident from the first note, a trait that continued throughout the nearly two-hour-long performance. The quartet played uninterrupted for the first 50 minutes. The opening piece transitioned flawlessly into the melancholic tones of "Mr. Bow Tie'' which provided every band member with the space to reveal their prowess, commencing with Jimmy Greene's masterful warm saxophone, Rosnes modal, rhythmic yet delicate piano touches, and Crossley's dynamic drum work. The medley evolved into two exquisite renditions of Miles Davis' adventurous classics, the hard-bop "Seven Steps to Heaven," enhancing Greene's captivating solos, and the ballad "Flamenco Sketches" unraveling Rosnes eloquent piano phrasing and Carter's agile bass lines providing the foundation of the theme. Segueing the spirited, prolonged opening, Carter took the stage and dedicated the ballad "My Funny Valentine" to Chicago bassist Richard Davis, who passed away last month. The piece was reworked into a spellbinding duet between Rosnes' lyrically melancholic piano and Carter's passionate, nimble bass plucks.

The paramount moment of the event was Carter's incredibly unique version of "You Are My Sunshine," which he integrated with Bach Cello Suite No. 1 for an experimental and emotionally stirring interpretation. This piece provided a glimpse into his background as a double bassist who originally trained as a classical cellist, revealing his acumen of music. To conclude the concert, the artist engaged in a brief dialogue with the audience before dedicating the closing act, "You and the Night of the Music '' to them. This piece allowed each musician to unravel their dexterities in a cascade of extended solos.

The ensemble's remarkable synergy was especially impressive, as each musician blended immaculately with the others, resulting in an extraordinary sound. The quartet exhibited a significant level of cohesion, while their sense of timing, transition, and alacritous accents were especially noteworthy. The musicians' devotion to music, and profound musical rapport—developed over the several years of performing together—mirrored their technical expertise. Furthermore, their playing was imbued with an intangible chemistry, exalting the music to new apexes.

The audience remained enthralled by the alluring performance and the artful interplay to the extent that there was scarcely any distraction from phone usage or chatter. As the last note echoed throughout the room, the audience erupted into a thunderous applause, followed by a merited standing ovation.

As the attendees left the theater and dispersed, the lingering resonance of the music and the experience remained, leaving a lasting impression of a memorable night.

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