25 February 2017 - RON CARTER - Legend

- Legend -

G'day folks,

Ron Carter is, bar none, the single most recorded bassist in music history. With more than 2000 (not a typo!!) album appearances under his belt, it is pretty difficult to imagine anybody ever touching Carter for prolificacy. Of course, in order to be invited to that many sessions, it goes without saying that his fluid, elegant, and perceptive bass lines have been virtually unequaled in the past 50 years.

Born in Ferndale, Michigan, Carter began his musical development on the cello at the age of 10. Due to the barriers preventing African Americans from penetrating the world of classical music, he switched to the bass. Carter earned a bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music and a master’s from the Manhattan School of Music, performing in their respective Philharmonic Orchestras. However, his extracurricular jazz activities thrust Carter into the middle of a burgeoning post-bop scene. Before he was even out of grad school, he was performing and recording with other future legends like Eric Dolphy (alto sax), Mal Waldron (piano), and Roy Haynes (drums).

His next move would set the course of his career at a lightning pace. Joining with Miles Davis’s Second Great Quintet in the early ’60s, he spent the next decade redefining jazz alongside Herbie Hancock (piano), Wayne Shorter (sax), and Tony Williams (drums). His association with Davis pushed Carter into wildly experimental territory and led to a period of flirtation with the electric bass. Typically a stand-up player, he helped to define the fusion genre with his bandmates by grounding their space-funk exploration with his slippery-but-thick walking bass lines.

The ‘60s also earned Carter his reputation as among the most sought-after session players in circulation. During this decade, he lent his sonorous tone to records by Hancock, Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Lee Morgan (trumpet), Horace Silver (piano), George Benson (guitar), Chico Hamilton (drums), and countless others. In the ‘70s, he emerged as a respected bandleader in his own right, fronting various combos comprised of the scene’s greatest musicians. He would become an important exponent of the Third Stream movement, which blurs the lines between jazz and classical music, as well.

Through the next two decades, Carter was essentially the house bassist for the great CTI Records. During the label’s period of maximum importance, Carter sat in on innumerable sessions for jazzers like Stanley Turrentine (sax), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Paul Desmond (alto sax), Milt Jackson (vibes), Herbie Mann (flute), and pretty much everybody else of any importance to recorded jazz at the time.

In the ’90s and ’00s, Carter showed no signs of slowing, even basking in the appreciation of musicians outside the jazz bubble. Hip hop pioneers, A Tribe Called Quest, tapped Carter for a guest appearance on their now-classic The Low End Theory (1991), even as Carter continued to release his own work at a pace of roughly an album a year. Ron Carter is a member of the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the City College of New York, and (unless anybody out there can think of another candidate) likely the most-recorded musician alive today.

Clancy's comment: A true legend.

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