Today, May 10th, 2022, Ron Carter returns to Carnegie Hall as part of the celebration of his 85th birthday. Unfortunately I won’t be there, and I thought it would be interesting to look back at one of Ron’s prior appearances at Carnegie Hall. It came as part of an incredibly ambitious pair of events conceived by George Butler and produced by Jay Chattaway. This post covers both the events and the resulting releases. I couldn’t help but share my excitement about the Ron Carter/Bob James/Hubert Laws performance and exchanged emails with CTI Historian Doug Payne. This post includes our exchange, styled as an interview.
Creed Taylor wasn’t involved at all, so this is another non-CT post. Here is a 6-minute+ sampler of the double album, in order. The complete laserdisc/videodisc film edited and presented from the Carnegie Hall concert is at the end of the post.
It’s worth noting, as described by Clayton Riley, there were two concerts, both called “One-Night Stand”, the Carnegie Hall concert has videoOne-Night Stand: A Keyboard Event (1982, CLV, Laserdisc) – Discogs, and the LA concert has audioOne Night Stand: A Keyboard Event (1981, Gatefold, Vinyl) – Discogs, they are not the same. As well as different track list and different performers, the track “Hexagon”, written specifically for the finale of the concerts by Jay Challaway has different players, as well as these differences, there is a different feel between the film version, and audio version concerts.
Two concerts, both called ONE-NIGHT STAND, put circumstance into motion on January 12th in Los Angeles, and eight days later at New York’s Carnegie Hall. It was a time of change and high energy throughout the United States. A new president was taking office. The Americans held for well over a year as hostages in Iran were coming back home. And jazz, long a music of celebration and renewal, gave evidence to indicate that its tough, strong, gentle, and sometime whispered voice was willing and more than ready to address new times — again.Liner Notes, Clayton Riley – One Night Stand: A Keyboard Event – Columbia – C 37100
Dr George Butler had been a producer and A&R man rising up through the ranks at a number of companies, by the early 1970’s he found himself in charge at Blue Note records following the death of Francis Wolfe. Taylor’s CTI label came under pressure from various directions, not least from Columbia, many of his staff and artists would find themselves at Columbia, including Bob James and John Snyder. After a rapid set of mergers and acquisitions, Blue Note was shut down and Butler moved to Columbia as vice president for jazz and progressive A&R, he bought a number of his Blue Note Artists with him.
Butler set to work to create his keyboard extravaganza. The two shows had similar content, but not everyone could either attend, or contractually commit to be at both shows. That meant Ramsey Lewis would be in California, but not in Carnegie Hall. Eubie Blake would be in New York, but not at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. As well as the concerts there were rehearsals, all in all a major event and major expense. Some 6-months after MTV had appeared on Cable TVMTV – Wikipedia, this was Butler and Columbia jazz on film for a new generation, it lacked Taylor’s vision and despite the grandiose plan was little more than a promotional vehicle for the latest Columbia albums of the stars.
This was no more obvious than in the artists portraits, which are almost exclusively Columbia artists and missing Ron Carter, Earl Klugh and Noel Pointer who were not Columbia artists.
Robert Palmer writing in the January 22nd New York Times was equally confused.
WAS the ’’One Night Stand” at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday ”an evening of all stars,” as the program advertised on its front page, or “a keyboard concert,” as the same program stated inside? Or was it an expensive promotion for Columbia records’ roster of jazz artists? The 16 jazz musicians who performed, mostly in rushed 10-minute segments, couldn’t be sure, but whatever ’’One Night Stand” was, it resulted in some moments of fine jazz, along with some that were not so fine.JAZZ: 16 MUSICIANS PLAY FOR A ‘ONE NIGHT STAND’ – Robert Palmer, Jan 22nd, 1981 New York Times.
The CTI Connection
I was excited and delighted. Here, on one laserdisc were three of my favorite artists, Bob James, Hubert Laws, and Ron Carter performing together. They appeared on three tracks together, carefully selected music meant they would share in royalties as James had written “Winding River”, Carter wrote “Doom”, and Laws wrote the tribute “Memory Of Minnie”.
The Laws track though never made it onto the laserdisc which is disappointing. “Memory Of Minnie” can be found on the 2x vinyl LP of “One Night Stand”, a studio version can also be found on Laws Columbia 1980 “Family” album, whose executive producer was George Butler. Laws had recorded on two tracks for the last album by songbird Minnie Riperton, the self-titled 1979 album “Minnie”https://www.discogs.com/master/273336-Minnie-Riperton-Minnie. Riperton died as a result of breast cancer aged just 31, just months after the “Minnie” studio session. At the time of recording, Laws would have been aware of the impact cancer had on Riperton, even if he didn’t know it was terminal and she only had months to live.
“Doom” was originally released on Carter’s excellent Herbie Mann produced “Uptown Conversation” albumRon Carter – Uptown Conversation | Releases | Discogs, also on Mann’s Embryo label. Hubert Laws, Herbie Hancock and Grady Tate played on that album version. “Doom” can also be found on Carter’s 1979 album for JVC “1 + 3”. That was his latest leader album at the time of “One Night Stand” and almost certainly explains why it was usedRon Carter – 1 + 3 | Releases | Discogs.
“Winding River” by Bob James appeared on James 1979 “Lucky Seven” Tappan Zee imprint on Columbia records. At the time of “One Night Stand”, James had been on a tear and had released five other Tappan Zee/Columbia album since “Lucky Seven. The insert for “One Night Stand” included a promo for James’ album “H”. For those not paying attention, H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so it’s “H” after “Lucky Seven”. James had recorded “One On One” with Earl Klugh, on Tappan Zee/Columbia, also in 1979. Klugh is also on “One Night Stand, although not with James.
Sir Roland Hanna had provided the impetus for this exploration, and while there are other films and performances of him, most came later in his career. He recorded his 24-Preludes, 12-Preludes in 1976, and 12 in 1977The 24 Preludes of Roland Hanna – Creed Taylor Produced (ctproduced.com). After that, prolific as ever, another dozen or so albums had been released on other labels by 1982. It’s not clear why Hanna was included here, except he is a truly exceptional pianist. It’s possible Columbia and Butler were looking to sign Hanna, but it didn’t happen as in June/July 1982, Hanna recorded his third and final album as a leader with Taylor, “Gershwin Carmichael Cats”Roland Hanna – Gershwin Carmichael Cats | Releases | Discogs, as CTI attempted to come back from bankruptcy.
There is no doubt that the disjointed styles didn’t work well as a concept, while six Steinway piano’s on stage for the grand finale, with a jazz musicians dressed up in their finest is a sight to see, the evening both confused reviewers and disappointed jazz critics. While I enjoyed seeing the musicians in a live setting, I wanted to get feedback on the performances. I reached out to Doug Payne, writer, reviewer and CTI Historian.
ctproduced: Hi Doug, thanks for agreeing to help me understand this pair of concerts as available on the album and video.
Doug Payne: Thank you for sharing the laserdisc video, I had no idea there was a video. I have not heard this record in years, it’s very cool to watch – and really an amazing collection of musicians.
ctproduced: It got a really mixed bag of reviews at the time, what do you make of “One Night Stand”?
Doug Payne: You may, however, not really care for my opinion on this. For all the talent involved, ONS is an amazingly undistinguished, mostly boring affair. I thought that then and it still seems to me to be the case. The only real personality here comes from Eubie Blake (whose appearance here made no sense to my 18-year old self – and as wonderful as he is, he still seems out of place). There is absolutely no sense of history here – and I only say that because that is what they seemed to be going for.
ctproduced: I really enjoyed seeing Bob James, Ron Carter and Hubert Laws together. I was disappointed there wasn’t more film available as we know from the double album they did at least one more track. I’d like to have seen Rodney Franklin. Franklin had a massive dance hit in the UK in 1980 with “The Groove”, it was arguably one of the last great dance tracks in London before the new wave romantics took over. I also missed Ramsey Lewis, in my musical background there is a direct line from his 1966 “Wade In The Water”, through his 1974, Earth, Wind & Fire infused “Sun Goddess” to Franklin’s “The Groove”. Lewis though was only at the LA gig, and has two tracks on the double album.
Doug Payne: The highlights for me are surely Kenny Barron with Bobby Hutcherson (I love that “Calypso” thing they do – never repeated elsewhere) and the spectacular “Johnny” thing that Duke and Earland do. Even so, “Johnny” seems rather out of place here in the voltage department. But it is one of the few signs of life in the rather too-long and too-tingly program. The Hanna/Blythe piece starts off interestingly enough but goes on far too long and ponderously for my tastes.
ctproduced: Did you like the “CTI-stars” contribution?
Doug Payne: I originally got the double album for the Bob James tracks, and I have to say, he isn’t too convincing here. “Winding River” – meh. I don’t want to hear “Angela” either, but he could have done something in more of a jazz element. Ron Carter’s solo on “River” seems to suggest he wanted to do something a little more challenging as well (they seem to be playing two different songs). “Doom,” which originally featured Herbie Hancock, gets there, but… I did not miss the Hubert Laws piece.
ctproduced: Did you think it worked as a sales vehicle for Columbia? I’m not sure it did, the cost must have been astronomical given rehearsal time and hiring Carnegie Hall etc. Of course, it’s one of those events you’d have to see live to really know. The double album runs 1-hour, 42-minutes; the laserdisc only 98-minutes and includes lots of filler-interviews. Maybe it’s the way it’s edited and presented after the event?
Doug Payne: The idea of piano “duets” is good – though Bobby Hutcherson, not the pianist, seems to be the “star” of his duo. So why Roland Hanna and no Cedar Walton? What about Harold Mabern? And if we are force-fed CBS artists like Arthur Blythe (who I love), why no Woody Shaw (who I also love)? And why Noel Pointer – and Earl Klugh? I get it that “names” need to sell the project and it is 1981, but they have nothing to do with a “keyboard event.”
ctproduced: I think the Bruce Lundvall produced “One Night With Blue Note” in 1985(6) One Night With Blue Note – YouTube was much better, and Creed continued to do All-Star events, as finances allowed through to 2010, was this a failed opportunity then?
Doug Payne: Dr. George Butler was a great benefactor to many-a jazz musician (at CBS, Elektra Musician and, later, Blue Note) – and he gave many jazz folk great recording opportunities. But he never had Creed Taylor’s vision or the ability to craft a classic in the mold of “Kind of Blue,” “In a Silent Way,” and “Bitches Brew” (Teo) or “Blues and the Abstract Truth,” “Jazz Samba,” “Sugar,” “Red Clay,” and “California Concert” or anything that might make someone stand up and listen.
ctproduced: Thanks Doug, I always enjoy your perspective
Of the reviews at the time, easily the most widely read would have been Mary Campbell of the Associated Press (AP)Mary Campbell, longtime music writer for The Associated Press, dies at 78 at Indiana | CityNews Vancouver. Her review was syndicated and printed in newspapers across the country. Perhaps the most damming, that of Wayne Robins writing into the (New York Long Island) NewsdayArticles, interviews and reviews from Wayne Robins: Rock’s Backpages. (rocksbackpages.com) on January 22nd, 1981.
A Wider Broadcast
The video from the Carnegie Hall concert was widely shown and distributed through cable-tv. The TV reviews were on the whole more positive. The film was aired by the Bravo network, which included A&E and was still being rebroadcast in 1988. I had thought they didn’t film the LA concert, it says on the laserdisc sleeve’ Filmed at Carnegie Hall”. A TV listing for a 1988 rebroadcast says it was shot at both. The laserdisc though is 98-minutes and the TV listings typically show a 2-hour broadcast time and I don’t recall Bravo, A&E having commercials.
For those that are not up to speed with laserdiscs, they are the same 12-inch size as a vinyl album. They have the same analog video capabilities and resolution as VHS tape but are way more durable than either VHS tape or vinyl albums. Their big advantage is they use the same digital audio technology as CD’s. Unfortunately, this laserdisc has a slight “tic, tic” on the audio some of the tracks, I’ve no idea why.
The Executive Producer for the video was listed as Jock McLean, Mclean was involved with a number of jazz film and TV productions in the mid’ to late 1980’s, including the aforementioned “One Night With Blue Note” and some of the Billy Taylor “Jazz Counterpoints” series which was also shown on Bravo.
One-Night Stand: A Keyboard Event Label: CBS Fox Video – 7044-80 Format: Laserdisc, 12", NTSC, CLV Released: 1982 Program 00:15 Organ Blues Charles Erland & George Duke, Buddy Williams (Drums) 06:37 Charleston Rag Eubie Blake 10:59 Memories Of You Eubie Blake 16:10 Sunshower & Calypso Kenny Barron, Bobby Hutcherson (Vibes & Marimba) 28:15 Winding River Bob James, Ron Carter(Bass) 37:00 Doom Bob James, Ron Carter (bass), Hubert Laws (Flute) 45:20 When Johnny Comes Marching Home Charles Erland & George Duke, Buddy Williams (Drums) 55:45 A Common Cause Sir Roland Hanna, Arthur Blythe (Alto Sax) 1:10:40 D.C.H. George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke (Fender Bass) 1:16:54 Hexagon Eubie Blake, Kenny Barron, Ron Carter (Bass), George Duke, Bob James, Herbie Hancock, Sir Roland Hanna, Buddy Williams(Drums).
One Night Stand: A Keyboard Event Label: Columbia – KC2 37100, Columbia – C 37100 Format: 2 x Vinyl, LP, Album, Gatefold Released: 1981 A1 Charleston Rag - 3:56 Piano, Soloist – Eubie Blake A2 After The Rain - 4:58 Cello – Linda Sanfilippo; Piano – Ramsey Lewis. A3 Pentagonal - 7:46 Piano – Ramsey Lewis, Sir Roland Hanna. A4 Sunshower - 3:21 Piano – Kenny Barron; Vibraphone, Marimba – Bobby Hutcherson. A5 Calypso - 3:53 Piano – Kenny Barron; Vibraphone, Marimba – Bobby Hutcherson. B1 Mirabella - 8:36 Acoustic Guitar – Earl Klugh; Percussion – Manolo Badrena; Piano – Rodney Franklin; Violin – Noel Pointer B2 The Princess - 2:33 Acoustic Guitar – Earl Klugh; Percussion – Manolo Badrena; Piano – Rodney Franklin; Violin – Noel Pointer. B3 When Johnny Comes Marching Home - 7:15 Drums – Buddy Williams; Organ [Hammond B-3] – Charles Earland, George Duke. B4 Winding River - 7:35 Bass – Ron Carter; Piano – Bob James. C1 Doom - 7:23 Bass – Ron Carter; Flute – Hubert Laws; Piano – Bob James. C2 Memory Of Minnie (Riperton) - 5:40 Bass – Ron Carter; Flute – Hubert Laws; Piano – Bob James C3 A Common Cause: Brotherly Love; Reckoning - 13:03 Piano – Sir Roland Hanna; Saxophone – Arthur Blythe D1 D.C.H. - 7:34 Electric Bass – Stanley Clarke; Piano, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Clavinet, Keyboards [Clavitar], Drum Machine – Herbie Hancock; Piano, Synthesizer [Prophet] – George Duke D2 Hexagon - 18:23 Bass – Ron Carter; Drums – Buddy Williams; Piano – Bob James, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Ramsey Lewis, Rodney Franklin, Sir Roland Hanna