Interview: Ron Carter (Part 1) - JazzWax

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March 24, 2008


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Jon Foley

A dissenting opinion, if I might -
"The history of the acoustic jazz bass starts in the hands of hard-charging 1930s swingers like Jimmy Blanton, John Kirby, Moses Allen and Walter Page." (This is where Milt Hinton belongs, IMO). "The band bassists were followed in the 1940s by boppers Oscar Pettiford, Curly Russell, Tommy Potter and Nelson Boyd." (The latter three were primarily rhythm players who rarely soloed, at least on record). "Next were the cooler, more "cerebral" 1950s bassists Ray Brown, Charles Mingus, Percy Heath, Paul Chambers, Milt Hinton, George Morrow, Doug Watkins and Scott LaFaro." (Although arguably more cerebral than the previously mentioned players [except Pettiford], I'd never classify Brown, Mingus, and LaFaro, to pick just three, as "cool." Just the opposite, I'd say). "Then in the early 1960s, Ron Carter transformed the upright instrument from metronome to equal creative partner." (If anyone could be credited with that transformation, it would have to be Mingus, LaFaro, and the criminally underrated Red Mitchell - in the 1950s. Then, in the 60s, Ron Carter carried on with his own advancements in playing).

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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