Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

12

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

More Articles

Read We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory Live Reviews We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory
by Josef Woodard
Published: December 16, 2017
Read We Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews We Jazz Festival 2017
by Anthony Shaw
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017 Live Reviews Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Jazztopad Festival 2017 Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Bobby Hutcherson tribute at SFJAZZ Center" Live Reviews Bobby Hutcherson tribute at SFJAZZ Center
by David Becker
Published: January 24, 2017
Read "Grand Union Orchestra at Wilton's Music Hall" Live Reviews Grand Union Orchestra at Wilton's Music Hall
by Duncan Heining
Published: June 20, 2017
Read "Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens" Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory" Live Reviews We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory
by Josef Woodard
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "Balé Folclórico de Bahia at Zellerbach Hall" Live Reviews Balé Folclórico de Bahia at Zellerbach Hall
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "38th International Jazzfestival Saalfelden" Live Reviews 38th International Jazzfestival Saalfelden
by Enrico Bettinello
Published: September 15, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!