13

Ron Carter Golden Striker Trio at Jazzfest Gronau 2014

Phillip Woolever By

Sign in to view read count
Ron Carter Golden Striker Trio
Evangelist Stadtkirche
Jazzfest Gronau
Gronau, Germany
April 27, 2014

Ron Carter resumed his casual, "guy with the microphone" demeanor as bandleader for this afternoon's "church meeting," but brought a confident intensity to this conspicuously jazz conscious German community on the Netherlands border. A large, enthusiastic crowd at Evangelist Stadtkirche was well aware that whatever role Carter takes in an ensemble, his majestic upright bass stands as one of the strongest bottom lines in jazz history.

Carter and the current incarnation of his Golden Striker Trio (guitarist Russell Malone with Donald Vega on piano) played an especially satisfying, 100 plus minutes set of standards and rotating solos that reaffirmed Jazzfest Gronau's reputation for top quality programming.

Carter and crew were the festival's opening concert, and displayed their own standard, a very high one. Set up on the ornate altar of a long, wood beamed hall, quiet strength resonated from both the structure and the musicians' tools.

The group was illuminated from behind by stained glass windows as three curved panels bathed them in light, nicely emphasizing the trio theme. Visual gold had been struck, auditory pleasures were to follow.

There was a subtle sound variance, depending on proximity, in the thick wooden pews which were jam-packed in front and sparse at the back. The church's multi- chambered acoustics gave the overall sound some interesting nuances, not all good. There were moments when the guitar had a tin-like echo, and the piano got smothered a few times. Minor sound issues persisted, but got worked out for most of the show.

Instruments sometimes sounded better separately than together, but Carter's tones remained clear throughout. He flew through middle registers while Malone, a long time collaborator from the initial 2003 Striker project, plucked strings with a harp like resonance, providing smooth rhythms to run along.

At one point, it looked like Miller had to take an unexpected break, whispering something to Carter before exiting stage right. Vega downshifted and Carter stretched into a brief solo without missing a beat. Very smooth indeed.

Carter floated across the frets on "Eddie's Theme" in a carefree manner that belied the effort's complexity. Introductory song patterns got an increasingly louder audience reaction, as Carter explored a reliable catalogue of songs like "My Funny Valentine," "Parade" and "Autumn Leaves."

Sometimes "scheduled" improvisation or jamming is really just like last year's model. This tour might have been called "Revised," since the trio modified many previous takes.

The set reached a pinnacle during a revised version of "The Golden Striker" with an extended solo featuring almost ten minutes of vibrato variations, awesome in how Carter extracted bowing effects with his fingers. Carter stretched tonal themes, then returned to more basic beats and started a musical conversation that had five rows of people hanging on every staccato statement. He bent the strings, with joy, until they wrapped around the heads of everyone in the crowd.

Prior to the encores, numerous false endings drew loud ovations, as the crowd smiled more broadly every time the music resumed. Carter took a breath and wiggled his tie like a professor concluding a lighthearted lecture. Repeated bursts of extended applause were as much a tribute to Carter's entire career as to the concert itself.

Ray Henderson's "South Wind" blew the audience away, headed for home in a flurry of emotion, as hard bopping shifts in timing and tone ignited like signal fires at high tremolo tide.

Glancing at most people's facial expressions, by the end of the set they seemed to be studying each musician pretty deeply. Clichés aside, this was indeed a master class in old school composition and current swing, conducted at the highest level.

What does one get if you combine three like minds and thirty fingers in a perfectly unified balance? For those in Gronau the answer, of course; was the Golden Striker Trio. They might have been preaching to the choir today, but their playing was still a gospel truth.

Photo Credit: Hartmut Springer

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Sep4Wed
Ron CARTER Trio
Catalina Bar & Grill
Hollywood, CA
$35 - 35
Sep5Thu
Ron CARTER Trio
Catalina Bar & Grill
Hollywood, CA
$40 - 40
Sep6Fri
Ron CARTER Trio
Catalina Bar & Grill
Hollywood, CA
$45 - 45
Sep7Sat
Ron CARTER Trio
Catalina Bar & Grill
Hollywood, CA
$50 - 50
Sep7Sat
Ron CARTER Trio
Catalina Bar & Grill
Hollywood, CA
$40 - 40

Related Articles

Read Steve Wilson at the Jazz Room Live Reviews
Steve Wilson at the Jazz Room
By Mark Sullivan
June 25, 2019
Read Marcin Wasilewski Trio at Triskel Christchurch Live Reviews
Marcin Wasilewski Trio at Triskel Christchurch
By Ian Patterson
June 24, 2019
Read The Nice Jazz Orchestra At The Opera House Live Reviews
The Nice Jazz Orchestra At The Opera House
By Martin McFie
June 23, 2019
Read Jochen Rückert Quartet at Hong Kong Arts Centre Live Reviews
Jochen Rückert Quartet at Hong Kong Arts Centre
By Rob Garratt
June 21, 2019
Read John Richmond at The Turning Point Cafe Live Reviews
John Richmond at The Turning Point Cafe
By David A. Orthmann
June 19, 2019
Read Ojai Music Festival 2019 Live Reviews
Ojai Music Festival 2019
By Josef Woodard
June 19, 2019
Read Frédéric Gomes at les Deux Moulins Live Reviews
Frédéric Gomes at les Deux Moulins
By Martin McFie
June 17, 2019