Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ron Carter - Bass de Jour

( Naar de Nederlandse vertaling)

The Ron Carter Quartet was one of the bands that played at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Ahoy Rotterdam venue on Friday the 11th of July 2008. I posted some impressions about this first day of the festival at my contribution titled Friday - North Sea Jazz. One of the highlights of that day was the concert by the Ron Carter Quartet, featuring Ron Carter on the double bass, Stephen Scott at the piano, Payton Croissley on drums and Rolando Morales-Matos on percussion. The concert was scheduled at the Madeira hall at 10.15 a.m. but started 15 minutes later.
From left to right: Payton Crossley - Rolando Morales-Matos - Stephen Scott - Ron Carter - Dan Quellette (Northsea Jazz ) (foto: Hans Koert)

Previous to this concert was an interview by Dan Quellette with Ron Carter and the members of the quartet in the Volga. Dan Quellette, who's an editor of Down Beat magazine, also moderated an interview with Mark Murphy and Wouter Hamel previous to this one, had organized this as a Question & Answer between the three members of the band and their maestro, as Rolando Morales-Matos, Puerto Rico born, labelled Ron in his first question. One of the questions was how it is possible that you always can recognize Ron's bass sound, even when he is not playing on his own double bass. Ron explained that it is very difficult to take your own bass while on tour. "I pay three times the airfare when I take my own instrument with me", Ron explained, "I have to play now on the "bass de jour", the double bass available on the band stand. Normally I only change the tail pin and the pickup, to amplify the sound." Ron explains the different types of strings he has used in the past and nowadays (at home he still uses his 1959 bass used in the Miles Davis Quintet) and about the use of pickup. "I meet my "bass de jour" normally twenty minutes before the concert, so....." Stephen Scott, piano player with Ron Carter for years, wonders how Ron managed to have his great bass sound recorded in a way that it is always great to listen to. Ron explains how Rudy Van Gelder learned to handle the bass sound, which is very difficult to record, with the help of Paul Chambers, who visited the Van Gelder studio in Hackensack as often as he could to find the best way to record the basssound.

Ron Carter (Northsea Jazz) foto: Hans Koert

Stephen Scott loved to know how it was to be part of the second Miles Davis Quintet and how Ron came into that band. Ron told that every musician in the 1950s looked up to Miles Davis. "One day I was playing a six week gig in the band of Art Farmer, when Miles stepped into the club and asked him to come and play in his new quintet". "Well - I said", Ron explains, "I do have a job - I can't leave now. Ask Art. After the second set Miles talked to Art and so I came into that quintet, which featured Miles Davis of course on trumpet, Herbie Hancock at the piano, Wayne shorter on sax and Tony Williams on drums. Playing in that band was like being in a laboratory - we all trusted each other and each member could share his ideas."

Rolando Morales-Matos (Northsea Jazz) (foto: Hans Koert)

"You played with hundreds of bands, you made over 3,500 albums, but there might be bands you have never performed. Can you tell me," Stephen asked Ron, "with what bands you had loved to play?" Ron answered: "Duke Ellington of course and the count Basie Orchestra. And I love to play with Oscar Peterson again - I have only played one evening in his trio - I wished I had been able to do more concerts with this Canadian giant on the keys."
Ron Carter ( Northsea Jazz - Rotterdam ) (foto: Hans Koert)
When Ron is asked to compose his ultimate band, he lists a lot of names, like Jim Hall, Tony Williams, Paul Chambers, Doug Watkins and Russell Malone and explains that it hard to make choices. He also mentioned Rolando Morales-Matos,being the only one of the quartet, and that makes him proud as a peacock. "Oh no, let's skip Roland" Ron says, when he notices his reaction, let's take another one. "I have played with so many gifted musicians, that I hardly can make a choice....."
Payton Crossley ( Northsea Jazz) (foto: Hans Koert)

The Madeira was full-packed when Ron Carter and his men gave their concert. It was really great. The music he made was a tribute to Miles Davis, labelled as "Dear Miles". As a lengthy improvisation a dozen Miles Davis tunes like Seven Steps To Heaven, My Funny Valentine, Bye Bye Blackbird, Stella By Starlight, Someday My Prince Will Come and as Time Comes By, though Miles never recorded that last one, were played. Also some newly composed tunes like Cut and Past and 595 were played in a tribute to Miles. It was fascinating to hear how Ron connected all those themes into a lengthy improvisation, without breaks in between which could harm the concentration of the audience. I was sitting on the ground in front of the stage, right in front of the band, watching with bated breath and I didn't realize, that maybe two- or three hundred others were doing the same behind my back. I realized that in full extend at the end of the concert when I heard the applause and turned around. Thanks to Ron for this great concert!!

Ron Carter Quartet: l to r: Ron Carter - Payton Crossley - Rolando Morales-Matos (Northsea Jazz) (foto: Hans Koert)

The Dutch version of this blog was posted yesterday titled: Ron Carter - Dear Miles.

You can see more pictures of this great concert at my photo album

Hans Koert


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