What can you say about the NEA Jazz Master bassist/cellist, composer, author and educator Ron Carter that hasn’t been said already? He’s appeared on 2,221 recordings making him the most recorded jazz bassist in history. We must admit that calling him a jazz bassist is somewhat confining for his stature, after all just like Duke Ellington he is only interested in good music. And how can you honestly make such a categorization when he’s played with damn near every musician on the planet as a leader or group contributor. Yes, he was a member of Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet (1964-68).
On May 10, Carter will celebrate and be honored during his Ron Carter and Friends: 85th Birthday Celebration at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium) at 8 p.m.
“Pretty iconic people have played Carnegie Hall, who all have some kind of value,” said Carter. “They are one step above the rest and I am one of those people, this is very special.” Carter will play select material from his six-decade career, leading groups in three combinations. Due to time constraints, Carter chose three selections for each configuration: the Golden Striker Trio with guitarist Russell Malone and pianist Donald Vega; Ron
Carter Foursight Quartet with tenor saxophonist James Greene, pianist Irene Rosnes and drummer Payton Crossley; and Ron Carter Octet which combines with and his love for classical music.
Above being a great musician, Carter is a gentleman who anyone would cherish as a friend. He speaks his mind, never raises his voice, too smooth, too cool. If you are on the bandstand with him, make sure you dress to impress, he will accept no less because he will surely be clean, the best dressed in the place from Manhattan to Japan, no doubt. As a band leader, he brings out the best, as a professor, he molds young minds. As a friend that Carter integrity rolls off, you want to be better, do better, dress better—that’s the magic of Ron Carter.
He’s not sure if he will wear a new suit but he plans on having special socks. At this point in his career the three-time Grammy winner says he doesn’t practice that much at home anymore, his practice happens on the gig. When asked regarding his feelings about being 85 (which actually happens on May 4) he noted laughingly, “I didn’t notice until I saw the sign.”
The MC for the evening will be jazz enthusiast Lester Holt; guest speaker will be Ambassador Mikio Mori, consul-general of Japan in New York; and speakers Stanley Clarke and Buster Williams.
To purchase tickets for this historical occasion visit the website carnegiehall.org.
In honor of the internationally acclaimed NEA Jazz Master, tenor/soprano saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, the 24/7 jazz radio station WBGO-FM has changed its address from 54 Park Place to 54 Wayne Shorter Way in Newark, New Jersey.
The street sign unveiling of Wayne Shorter Way took place last weekend (April 29) where Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, members of Newark City Council, WBGO President & CEO Steven A. Williams, along with staff and a host of musicians paid tribute to Shorter in a livestream event. Shorter, who was introduced by Newark’s jazz producer and activist Dorthaan Kirk, joyfully participated via video from his home on the West Coast.
Earlier this year, the Newark City Council unanimously approved WBGO’s proposal to rename Park Place after the 11-time Grammy award winner, who was born and raised in Newark and attended Newark Arts High School, where he was known as the “Newark Flash.” Students from the school also performed under the direction of Lawrence Liggins.
WBGO President Williams stated, “Wayne Shorter is one of the most celebrated and decorated jazz artists in the world, but he had yet to receive tangible, visible recognition of his esteem in the place where it all began for him. We felt it vitally important to deliver the bouquet while he can still smell the flowers.”
Shorter was honored via video by a host of musician friends, some of which included Ron Carter, who stated, “Wayne as a bass player, you allowed me to play more notes.” Both were bandmates in Miles Davis’s Second Great Quintet (1964-68) that also included pianist Herbie Hancock and drummer Tony Williams. The openness of Miles as a bandleader gave Shorter an opportunity to explore his composing concepts, writing parts for everybody just as he heard it playing in his head. Following the quintet’s breakup in 1968, Shorter remained with Davis into his early groundbreaking jazz fusion recordings of “Bitches Brew” and “In a Silent Way” (both in 1969). “You been pointing the way for us for many years, now we will follow you on Wayne Shorter Way,” said Dee Dee Bridgewater.
During his stay with Miles, he recorded 11 albums with Blue Note Records with a variety of group configurations playing many of his compositions. “Wayne your music has touched us so deeply it’s hard to express but naming a street in your honor is a great start,” stated Blue Note Records President Don Was.
Later, Shorter along with Joe Zawinul, formed one of the most progressive jazz fusion groups in history, Weather Report.
WBGO radio is now located at the juncture of Wayne Shorter Way and Sarah Vaughan Way, where two legends meet and will forever lead the way from their hometown of Newark and throughout the universe.
After a two-year absence, the Newport Jazz Festival at Fort Adams State Park returns July 29-31 with an outrageous lineup. The only problem ticket holders will have is who to see or not see, having to scurry around from venue to venue (fortunately venues are only separated by minutes).
Some of the many musicians coming out once again to perform live will be Norah Jones, Terence Blanchard, The Baylor Project, Croatian jazz vocalist Thana Alexa, Nicholas Payton Trio, and McBride’s Newport Jawn with Brandee Younger, Vijay Iyer, Chris Potter, Makaya McCraven, Mike Stern and leader, bassist and festival’s artistic director Christian McBride. That’s just a partial lineup of opening day (July 28). The following day will feature Esperanza Spalding, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Sons of Kemet, (the London based group features a somewhat unorthodox instrumentation with a saxophone, tuba, and two drummers). Kemet’s leader and composer of all the album’s latest tunes Shabaka Hutchings says, “It’s a natural arrangement.
“I’ve never seen it as unconventional, it’s just been that I wanted to play with those two drummers. When I step on the stage in Sons of Kemet, I’m not trying to be Sonny Rollins or John Coltrane, I’m trying to be someone like Capleton or Anthony B or Sizzla, in terms of just the energy that I’m coming up with, I’m trying to just spit out fire.” The saxophonist Hutchings is also on the program as a solo artist. Also on July 29 will be Jack DeJohnette, Jazzmeia Horn (the young vocalist, who constantly elevates with each performance), Samara Joy (the young vocalist, who turned out Marcus Garvey Park last year during the Charlie Parker Festival), Antonio Sanchez & Bad Hombre, Lady Blackbird and Sullivan Fortner.
The festival closes on July 30 with “Celebrating George Wein” (guests to be announced), Nubya Garcia (had the pleasure of seeing her perform in South Africa, she was amazing, ahead of the curve, innovative. This tenor saxophonist/composer will be the talk of the festival. Living in London she doesn’t make the States often), Jazz Is Dead Presents, Sampa The Great, Ron Carter Quartet, Angelique Kidjo, Jason Moran Trio, Melissa Aldana, Vijay Iyer Trio and Emmet Cohen Trio among others. It is good to see female musicians as leaders and band members are prominent players in this festival which isn’t surprising.
For a complete schedule and ticket purchases visit the website newportjazz.org.