Ron Carter

Anything Goes

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Recorded in 1975 for Creed Taylor's Kudu imprint, Ron Carter's Anything Goes is a studied and even delightful exercise in the commercial aspect of funky jazz fusion. More interested in extrapolated grooves and pretentious motherchopper riffs, Anything Goes is a borderline disc, and no, that's not a bad thing. Using CTI's masterful, wide-ranging cast of studio players (as well as guests like Phil Woods), Carter cut a record that was as easy to dance to as it was to admire for the quality of its playing and David Matthews' arrangements. The finger-popping funk chart for the title cut -- as in the tune written by Cole Porter -- must have been scandalous to jazz pursuits, but so what. It was a finger-popping delight with a great piccolo bassline and solo from Carter, a groovy backing vocal trio, and killer flute work from Hubert Laws. Carter's own fascination with Brazilian samba began about this time in earnest -- a path he has followed into the 21st century. "De Samba," with its airy guitars courtesy of Eric Gale, Laws' lyrical flute, and Randy Brecker and Alan Rubin's trumpets, is a wonderful, funky jazz extrapolation on the form and is capped by Carter's own smoking bass solo. The read of Dave Grusin's "Baretta's Theme" is pure gritty R&B magic. David Sanborn's wailing alto saxophones play counterpoint to Gale's in-the-pocket chunky chords and fills, and lead the rest of the horn section into an orgy of swaggering funk. The four-horn front line on "Can't Give You Anything," with Woods, Michael and Randy Brecker, and Rubin's transcendent disco-jazz and Carter's fuzzed-out bass stomp, makes it all thump and hum. There's another samba variation on "Quarto Azul" that is a true jazz samba, with elegant playing from Randy Brecker and Gale stretching his own sense of rhythmic interplay on acoustic guitar. The set closes with "Big Fro," another Carter original, that should be on every single funk compilation that comes down the pike. His piccolo bass and the trio of backing vocalists -- which includes Patti Austin -- is a sweet, summery groovefest. The hooks just drip from this baby. In all, this is a pumping little record, indicative of a forgotten era, perhaps, but one that also reveals that this period in jazz was not only the black hole that the trad fascists have made it out to be, but was also a fertile, humid era where music like this was the rule rather than the exception.

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