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Ron Carter

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by musicman5string, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    Let me begin by saying that Ron Carter has been a huge influence on my playing; I've transcribed many of his lines, and consider his playing thoughout the 1960's to be some of the best in Jazz.
    On that note, I pulled out the record called "Crossings" yesterday; it was recorded in 1976 with Red Garland and Philly Joe Jones, and was instantly reminded of how awful his sound became in the 1970's. This of course, is my opinion, and some may feel that his sound in the 70's was great. Fair enough. For those who understand what I mean, however, it's just such a shame....it's like as soon as he switched to steel strings and a pickup his sound turned to crap. Which is strange because there were so many other players who got a great sound with gut strings and mic that continued to have a great sound with steel and a pickup (Ray Brown).

    I also never cared for his bass solos either. The sliding and tremolos are just too much for me.
    But his walking lines: mmm.....soooooo good.
  2. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Ron Carter always seemed to be a very intellectual player and I think his note choices reflect that.

    Ray Brown is more intuitive. When people ask what 'swing' is, just play Ray.
  3. I think Ron was looking for a more modern approach. Not just sound but his right hand technique is much lighter than the gut days. He lets the amp help with his dynamics. He can be more expressive and varie the attack with his RH, in ways similar to a BG player...a good one, that is.

  4. Rodriguez


    Nov 6, 2004
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification & LaBella Strings
    While rehearsing yesterday for an upcomoing show at J@LC w/ Cachao, Andy Gonzalez, Charnett Moffet and yours truly, Ron walked in ...... I happened to be on a break, went over to Ron, we talked for a while and he said he never met Cachao, so ... I had the pleasure of introducing two of my heroes to each other ... WOW! Only one thing would have been better .... to have Bobby Rodriguez at the show w/ us, he is truly missed.

  5. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Four words: State of the Tenor. It's indispensible . . .

    Props to Mr. Carter for not standing still . . . .
  6. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Let's not forget that when a lot of players' sounds changed in the seventies, it was actually the recording techniques making the difference. Dave Holland has never used anything but Spirocore mittels, but compare his tone on "Conference of the Birds" or "Gateway" to that on Metheny's "Question and Answer" (from the 80s) to that on any of the recent quintet CDs. When you plug a double bass pickup (especially an older or crappier one) directly into a mixing board it just sounds bad. Even Ray Brown from that 70s album with a quintet led by Bill Evans sounds terrible--sure, he got a good sound from his steel strings, but not going direct into the board.

    I know that this doesn't account for all of the change in Ron's sound (he certainly changed strings, and amplification, and technique...), but it's hard to find a studio album from the seventies or the early eighties on which the bass doesn't sound pretty dated at this particular moment.
  7. Chip Boaz

    Chip Boaz

    Apr 23, 2004
    I'm kind of in agreement with you about the quality of Ron's tone on some of those recordings. At the same time, I really have to give it to him for experimenting with all facets of his sound and approach. I think that he really strives for a voice and sense of individuality on the instrument - something I think he has really achieved. I mean, bad tone or not, you can't miss the fact that it's Ron Carter playing that bass. He has become one of the distinct voices on the instrument. He was out here in the Bay Area last year, he sounded great. He'll be out here again in a few monthes, can't wait to check it out.

    "State of the Tenor" is such a cool album . . . . I'm going to listen to that tonight.

    Ruben - wow, hanging out with Ron & Cachao - two of my heros too . . . . that's very cool . . . you're becoming one of my heros as well!
  8. ArwinH

    ArwinH run rabbit run

    Dec 1, 2005
    Southern California
    I had the chance to see him in november at the catalina club in LA. I've listened to alot of his recordings and taped live performances so it was definitely a cool experience hearing him play. He was playing with a quartet and I got to talk to him afterwards. I'm still amazed at how he makes the db look like such a toy, he plays some amazing solos and lines jsut effortlessly.
  9. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    ehh....Ron Carter is Ron Carter and I'm no one compared to him.
    But, it's like saying "The Godfather Part 3 is still made by Francis Ford Coppalla and you know it's him directing" even though the results are crap.
    Ron had one of the most recognizable sounds in the 60's; you didn't need his sound to change to the 70's sound to recognize it was him playing. Those Miles, Herbie, and Wayne records from the 60's got his best sound all over 'em.

  10. Geeibish


    Jan 30, 2006
    Clemson, SC
    Personally, I've never cared much for Ron Carter's sound in any period. He's a phenomenal bassist (hence why he's the 3rd most recorded bassist of all time), but his sound always lacked personality to to me, even in the 60's. If you hear Ray Brown or Charles Mingus, you say, "Yea, that's Ray Brown," or "that's Mingus." This could be due to his large amount of work outside of the jazz realm as well.
  11. bassame


    Mar 25, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
  12. dfp

    dfp Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2004
    i think RC's recorded tone got much better in the late 80s and 90s. i think his jazz playing though, has always been superlative, and his straight ahead soloing is wonderful when he goes that route.

    some of my fave bass solos are RC:
    Yardbird Suite, from Frank Morgan's wonderful Bird tribute album of the same name (1988)
    Just Squeeze Me, from Paul Desmond's Pure Desmond (1975)

    these solos reflect everything you love about RC's bass lines, with a minimum of sliding and tremolos :smug:
  13. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I think you've never listened to "The Soothsayer" record by Wayne Shorter. I think it would change your thinking.
  14. i love to hear RC on eric dolphy's "far cry".. but well i just love that recording and everything on it...

    his sound was better before the 70's imo.
  15. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Y'know, lots of folks seem to be kinda lukewarm to Mr. Carter, and that gets under my fingernails. Taste is taste, we like what we like but good gracious, hasn't this man done enough to earn an unqualified HAYULL YEAH?

    I'm listening to Mr. Bow Tie at this moment. Mr. Carter's sound is a splendid mix of pickup clarity and mic depth. His solo on "I Thought About You" mixes emotional, melodic playing with his trademark athleticism. I'll buy dinner to anybody, anytime who plays Mr. Carter's solo cadenza at the end of the tune -- it's textbook and totally in the moment.

  16. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    +1. Heck +10 to everything Sam's written in this thread, if I'm allowed...

    The only thing I'd like to add is that when you talk to non-bassists about RC, and even more so to people who have played with him, you never hear all this kind of stuff. They just hear what a great musician he is.

    I think some bassists get confused into thinking the only "good" sound is one that you can say you'd like to have yourself. As in, "I'd like to sound like Ron in the 60's" Therefore, Ron's 60's sound, good. "I don't want to sound like Ron in the 70's" therefore, Ron's 70's sound, bad. This might be a useful thing when you're 20 and trying to figure out what you want to sound like, but it means you write off a whole lot of good stuff because it's not how you personally want to sound.

  17. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    It means I find it difficult to listen to some of those recording despite how well it's played because the bass sounds like an electric cello.
  18. TomSauter


    Dec 22, 2004
    Kennesaw, GA
    I don't find it hard to listen to someone who swings hard and plays great lines, even if the sound is not ideal. Ron still gets a great sound out of his bass, he's just changed his equipment over the years.

    I don't understand why you would avoid listening to 30+ years of music from possibly the greatest bass player in the history of jazz because you don't care for his sound. He's played on so many great records and in such a variety of styles since the 60's.

    I also don't understand why you started this thread. Why do you start off by telling us what a huge influence Ron has been on you and then have 3 anti-Ron posts? I'm not saying that your criticism of him is unfair--his sound and his solos are not for everyone--but why start yet another thread trashing Ron Carter's sound. Now that I think of it, I don't really even believe you when you say that Ron has been a "huge influence" on your playing. It kinda sounds to me like you had a teacher or someone else tell you their opinion and you just went with it.

    I totally agree with Brent about non-bassists' opinions of Ron. Every heavyweight player that I've talked to about Ron at a masterclass or lesson has held him in the highest regard. I've never even heard a negative word about him in an interview or anything.
  19. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Tom, his posts aren't "anti-Ron," they're "anti-pickup-direct-to-board-and-a-mic'd-amp-not-sounding-like-a-real-double-bass." Of what I've heard of Ron's playing (which is mostly the 60's stuff with a bunch of the tunes off of his site that you can listen to while you surf,) I love his playing. However, I cannot stand the thin "electric cello" sound he's gotten since he changed his tones so dramatically. I've never heard musicman5string's playing, but it's highly possible to be influenced in your walking ideas by RC (honestly -- who hasn't used that C-E-G-Gb lick to go from a C to an F?) but to vehemently despise his tone.

    I don't find him hard to listen to in any case, but I've never heard his playing from the 70's.
  20. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    There's nothing thin about Ron's sound. Aaron, have you ever heard him live? His sound is huge and commanding, and he anchors the band like no other. Also, I think Ron's sound is as recognizable as Ray Brown or PC.

    This thread reminds me a bit of the one about NHOP or Bromberg in that guys with a more "electric" sound seem to be treated as inferior to those with a more "wood" sound, even if they have the same content in their playing. Just my opinion.