Ron Carter of Bars
Ron Carter teams up with Danny Simmons for this jazz-infused beat poems
Even the Guinness Book of Records says so: Ron Carter has been involved in the production of over 2,200 albums! At 82 years old, the double bass player extraordinaire still has things left to say. And he does so here, with this live album co-written with Danny Simmons. Not very well known in Europe, Simmons is none other than the older brother of Joseph Simmons (Run in Run-DMC) and Russell Simmons (producer and co-founder of label Def Jam). A painter, galley-owner, poet and novelist, he is also the co-founder of Def Poetry Jam, an event dedicated to slammers, poets and all other wordsmiths. For this Brown Beatnik Tomes − Live at BRIC House, he had a very precise idea: “I was trying to imagine myself as a Beat Generation poet in the '50s, and how my concerns would be a bit different from Lawrence Ferlinghetti's or Allen Ginsberg's. In a way, the beatniks romanticized black people. They were hip, but they didn't really see the plight. That scene largely was about the Negro experience but didn't have the Negro in it.”
Ron Carter, who was in his twenties at the time of Kerouac’s Beat Generation, is on the same wavelength: “I was not participating in the Beat movement. Those were white guys saying what they were saying. I was playing with people like [folk singer] Leon Bibb. A similar thing was happening in the black community, and my music was trying to support that.”
Here, their back-and-forth, composed with pianist Donald Vega and guitarist Russell Malone (along with playwright, actress and activist Liza Jessie Peterson on Where Do I Begin), combines spontaneity and themes that are rooted in history; a way to highlight the timelessness of its subject matters. Of course, English-speakers will get the most out of this literate and engaging album. A record that draws its might from Ron Carter’s double bass, which perfectly complements Danny Simmons’ lyrics and heighten their power.
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