July 19, 2007

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Ron Carter, Dear Miles
Blue Note Records, 2007

Ron Carter was Miles Davis’ bass player for three-quarters of the ’60s, part of the dream team quintet that also featured Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams. A long-time Blue Note freelancer, Carter has guested on over 3,500 albums from a wide array of jazz pros, taking time here and there to oversee the recordings of his own eponymous band, which has been in business since 1973. With Roger Squitero on board strictly to fortify percussion, the only harmonic instrument within this outing’s four-piece framework is the piano of Stephen Scott, who is kept crazy-busy with the job of re-creating various Miles Davis grooves for this sort-of-tribute LP (ex: in order to shrink the big band sound of “Gone” from the Evans/Miles Porgy & Bess collaboration into these confines, Scott takes on the horn parts). Of the ten songs, seven are Miles staples, Carter’s bass leading the charge on “Stella By Starlight.” The Carter-penned “Cut and Paste” is where they really start cooking with jet fuel, though, the rhythm section shifting to overdrive while Scott’s fingers speed-stutter around the keyboard like ice skaters jitterbugging on a high wire. An up-tempo, oddly cheerful version of “As Time Goes By” would seem an odd inclusion, but it’s Carter’s way of saying “Only Miles would have thought to try this.” BEric W. Saeger