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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Concord Records
Ever since Charlie "Bird" Parker recorded his first Charlie Parker With Strings sessions in 1949 and 1950, jazz artists have hoped to enjoy the backing of lush string orchestras. But most will never get the chance because of the expense; it's a lot easier to pay four or five musicians than 15, 20, or 25. Ron Carter, however, did fulfill that dream in the late '70s and early '80s -- first on 1978's Pick 'Em, then on 1981's Super Strings. In 2001, Fantasy reissued those Milestone dates back to back on this 78-minute CD. Typically, a jazz-with-strings project will emphasize overdone standards, but Carter's own material dominates this CD; the only tunes that he didn't write are Gordon Parks' "Don't Misunderstand" and Miles Davis' "All Blues." Carter's composing is solid throughout, and the material he provides ranges from introspective ballads ("Tranquil," "Opus 2") to a funky, gospel-minded offering ("Uptown Conversation") and a melodic, Brazilian-flavored piece ("Bom Dia"). Meanwhile, "Eight" is a modal number that is obviously based on John Coltrane's "Impressions" and Miles Davis' "So What." Parts of the CD swing hard, and parts are unapologetically lush -- nonetheless, Carter maintains his integrity and avoids getting into elevator muzak. The bassist obviously realizes that lush doesn't have to mean muzak. Although not among Carter's essential CDs, Pick 'Em/Super Strings is an enjoyable disc that will appeal to those who have a taste for lavish orchestral jazz. ~ Alex Henderson
Jazz - Released June 19, 2007 | Blue Note Records
Although he has participated in a couple of Miles Davis tribute bands and Herbie Hancock's V.S.O.P., Ron Carter always resisted leading a CD of Davis tunes, until this project. Actually only seven of the ten songs that are performed by Carter's quartet on Dear Miles were associated with the trumpeter (not the two Carter originals or "As Time Goes By"), and "Bags' Groove" is a bit borderline. In any case, there are no trumpeters emulating Miles and these versions rarely hint at Davis' versions. This project simply served as a good excuse to play a variety of superior songs. Carter has plenty of solo space and sometimes takes the melodic lead. Pianist Stephen Scott gets his solos and occasionally throws in unexpected and offbeat song quotes. Drummer Payton Crossley and percussionist Roger Squitero are very much in the background. Dear Miles is a cheerful and upbeat session, most highly recommended to listeners who enjoy hearing a lot of bass solos. ~ Scott Yanow
Jazz - Released January 1, 1979 | Concord Records
Bassist Carter heads a sterling mid-sized band with three trumpeters and saxophonists and two trombones. He handles the job of being both the primary and secondary rhythm support, while guests Joe Henderson, Jon Faddis, and Frank Wess, among others, provide some standout solos. The ensemble interaction clicks as well. ~ Ron Wynn
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