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The Ron Carter Nonet: Eight Plus by Ron Carter

Ron Carter certainly has an undisputable and stellar reputation as being one of the most important bassists in modern jazz. In addition to his expertise as a sideman demonstrated on 100’s (perhaps 1000’s) of recordings, Carter also has contributed a corpus of original compositions and has recorded under his own name as a bandleader. On the Dreyfus Records CD Eight Plus, Carter not only demonstrates his abilities as a composer, but also as a soloist on an instrument of his own design, the piccolo bass. Eight Plus is also an interesting experiment, in that Carter utilizes four cellos as the accompanying ensemble in addition to a standard rhythm section of piano, bass, drums and percussion.

Of the eight compositions on the CD, six are originals by Carter. His writing exposes an upbeat musical wit and sense of fun. The string ensemble of four cellos along with Carter’s piccolo bass creates a jazzy sound that reminds the listener of string groups like the Kronos Quartet and especially the Turtle Island String Quartet, a group that frequently draws from the "well" of jazz standards. The two compositions not by Carter include the traditional hymn "A Closer Walk With Thee," which serves as a brief "coda" to the recording and an arrangement of Leon Russell’s "A Song For You."

It is the two arrangements that are perhaps the weakest of the selections on the CD, they being somewhat formulaic and less inspired than Carter’s original pieces. Of his compositions, the tunes "A Blues for Bradley," "Little Waltz," and "El Rompe Cabeza" were standouts to this listener. Fans of Ron Carter and his musical abilities will find Eight Plus a "must have" recording. For the jazz aficionado and sophisticated listener seeking new and unique sounds within the jazz arena Eight Plus would also be an attractive bit of modern jazz and welcome addition to a CD collection.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Ron Carter
  • CD Title: The Ron Carter Nonet: Eight Plus
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Dreyfus Records
  • Tracks: Eight, A Blues For Bradley, Little Waltz, O.K., A Song For You, First Trip, El Rompe Cabeza, A Closer Walk With Thee
  • Musicians: Ron Carter (piccolo bass), Stephen Scott (piano), Leon Maleson (bass), Lewis Nash (drums), Steve Kroon (percussion), Kermit Moore, Chase Morrison, Carol Buck and Rachel Steuermann (cello)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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