It’s Ron’s birthday, here is my post from last year, which has both the four-fer mix and the Youtube video I created from one of Ron’s laserdiscs. That post contains detail about Ron and his career, the original post for the laserdisc has a great tribute video about Ron Carter, the man.
This year I thought I’d do a more complete mix, featuring Ron as a sideman and a leader. Where to start?
While I don’t have all my music cataloged on discogs, I do have pretty much all CTI/KUDU etc. vinyl, CD’s and laserdiscs. Some of the duplicates shown here are up for sale, but I have some 140 unique albums that Ron plays on. That is far short of the some 2,200 unique albums he appears on.
Normally for these mixes I try to constrain myself to releases produced by Creed Taylor. For this year I’m letting rip and covering Ron Carter as a leader or sideman from tracks that are in my collection. I’ve tried to pick tracks by a variety of artists, and lessor known tracks to demonstrate Ron’s talent. Press play, the track list and descriptions follow the images.
A Short Diversion
I can’t be sure when I first heard Ron Carter, my Dad had a few Quincy Jones, Ray Charles and Wes Montgomery albums, maybe those? Looking through my collection, though, and comparing it to the recordings Ron has made, I’m pretty sure it would be one of the two albums recorded and produced Bob Thiele for Flying Dutchman. The albums, written by award winning journalist Pete Hamill, and read by WOR-FM, WNEW-FM, New York DJ Rosko.
As a 13-year old, with a Dad who worked for General Motors in the UK, and was always looking west, I was fascinated in soccer, girls, motocross and music. It was 1971. That year was the first year I ended up with my leg in a cast, from soccer. I’d spend much of the 1970’s that way, twice from soccer, once from a motocross crash, once from a street crash on an enduro bike.
That summer, ’71, I couldn’t play soccer, couldn’t ride motorcycles, and certainly couldn’t chase girls. I spent much of the time at the local public library. They had micro-fiche copies of the New York Times, and, for whatever reason, they had a copy of Hamill’s “Massacre At My Lai” album. I don’t recall headphones, but the library had three very small listening booths. The librarian put the record on and told you which booth to sit at.
The set opens and closes with two samples from perhaps the most controversial albums that Ron has recorded. As far as I’m aware, Hamill wrote the dialogue for two albums, Ron Carter and James Spaulding played on both, they also played on a 3rd Flying Dutchman album.
- Massacre At My LaiPete Hamill , Narrated By Rosko , Flute James Spaulding , Bass Ron Carter , Commentary By Nat Hentoff , Produced By Bob Thiele – Pete Hamill’s Massacre At My Lai (1969, Gatefold, Vinyl) | … Continue reading
- Murder At Kent State UniversityPete Hamill Narrated By Rosko – Murder At Kent State University (1970, Vinyl) | Discogs
- Robert Scheer’s A Night At Santa RitaRosko, Ron Carter, James Spaulding – Robert Scheer’s A Night At Santa Rita (1969, Gatefold, Vinyl) | Discogs
Musically, Sheer’s Night at Santa Rita, the story of the protestors arrested during “Bloody Thursday” at People’s Park in Berkley, California, is almost certainly the best. All the album soundtracks though are thoughtfully syncopated, and provocative by instrument and lyric.
The Track List
00:00 – War Crimes – A short extract from Hamill’s 1969 Massacre At My Lai album.
00:32 – Midnight Mood – Wes Montgomery
From Montgomery’s 1966 Verve album, Tequila, featuring an early version of the CTI Strings; Ray Barretto on congas; Grady Tate on Drums; George Devens on vibraphone; arranged by Claus Ogerman; and produced by Creed Taylor.
05:52 – Uptown Conversation – Ron Carter
Taken from the 2001 CD remaster of Ron’s 1970 album Uptown Conversation. Produced by Herbie Mann, but featuring Hubert Laws on flute; Grady Tate, Drums; Herbie Hancock on piano; Sam Brown, Guitar. An interesting album, as Carter also wrote all the tracks.
11:57 – O Grande Amor – Stan Getz
Creed Taylor production in 1967 for Stan Getz, Sweet Rain. Grady Tate, Drums; Ron Carter, Bass; Chick Corea, Piano. Getz returns to a trio set-up, Samba is in the rear view mirror.
16:34 – Autumn Leaves – Chet Baker
Creed Taylor produced two albums with Baker, and a third live album,taking a risk on bringing Baker back. Autumn Leaves from She Was Too Good To Me. is a favorite; One of the few CTI albums from that period that were arranged by Don Sebesky and featured Bob James on keyboards; also unique in that it featured Hubert Laws and (theme from taxi) George Marge on flute) as well as Romeo Penque on clarinet. Paul Desmond, Alto Sax; Dave Friedman on vibraphone.
23:30 – Big Man On Mulberry Street – Billy Joel
Carter goes pops, or ore accurately Billy Joel goes big band for “Big Man” in 1986. Produced by Phil Ramone, one time engineer and collaborator with Creed Taylor. As well as Carter on bass; Michael Brecker and Ronnie Cuber are on sax.
28:47 – Friends – Bette Midler; 31:31 – Do you want to dance – Bette Midler
Two tracks from Midler’s epic 1972 The Devine Miss M. Remarkable album, if not just for the number of arrangers and producers, still holds together well though 50-years later. Ron played on both tracks here, and one other, all of them had Barry Manilow on piano, and the two here, Ralph McDonald on percussion.
34:12 – Run That Body Down – Paul Simon
Lesser known track from Simon’s 1972 album.
37:52 – The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) – Paul Desmond
From perhaps the finest example of pop-jazz, Paul Desmond’s Bridge Over Trouble Water album was produced and arranged by Don Sebesky. It’s a great arrangement and Carter provides a perfect foil to Desmonds sax.
42:56 – Sabado Sombrero – Ron Carter
See’s Carter back as a leader for CTI. While I’ve preferred Carter’s other CTI albums, yes including Anything Goes, which was perfectly timed for the pre-Saturday Night Fever disco hustle; today Carter’s 1974/5 Spanish Blue is a favorite these days.
49:00 – Island Shakedown – Robin Kenyatta
As heard here, from CD, Kenyatta’s album sounds very much 2008, except it isn’t, it’s from 1973. Produced by Michael Cuscana, includes the omni-present Ralph McDonald, but Carter gives the track it’s base to swing from.
52:26 – El Moodo Grande – Mike Longo
Another track which sounds right up to date, except for the lack of compression, Longo’s 1974 album was one of my 2017 undiscovered gems. Ron Carter plays both bass and acoustic bass; unusually Joe Farrell plays flute here instead of his more usual sax; Randy Brecker provides the horn lead on trumpet and flugelhorn.
60:36 – Intro (outro) – A short extract from Hamill’s Murder At Kent State University
Finally we return to Hamill, with the Intro as an outro to end the set. I’m taking a chance including this, the last time I used an extract from Vice President Agnew’s November 1969 “Impudent Snobs” speech“Impudent Snobs:” Vice President Agnew Attacks News Media | Today in Civil Liberties History (todayinclh.com), I lost my soundcloud account. Every time a YouTube video is posted with the speech, it gets taken down.
Happy Birthday Ron!
Upates: 4th May, 2021 – Minor text and layout changes