Ron Carter


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Carnaval Review

by Jim Todd

This is actually billed as a leaderless date, possibly instigated by this quartet's alto player, Sadao Watanabe, as it's a concert from 1978 in his native Japan. It's an exuberant, well-recorded set with all hands in good form. Speaking of the saxophonist, it is, fortunately, Watanabe the bebopper, not his fuzak-peddling alter ego. Bristling with a physical, Phil Woods-like virtuosity, he holds nothing back. He may not be subtle, but he's burning. Drummer Tony Williams also plays with a flashy power that works well in the context of this upbeat concert. The other half of the quartet, bassist Ron Carter and pianist Hank Jones, balance out Watanabe and Williams with poise and finesse. Carter is well-placed in the mix, with a clean sound that captures the finer elements of his gifts. Jones' swinging elegance keeps things focused over the five tracks. "Chelsea Bridge" is played mid-tempo, a notch or two beyond its more customary pace. "Mahnã de Carnaval," often handled with a dark, Latin lilt, is here given a bright, soulful attack. The three remaining tracks are true barnburners, the best of which is a scorching treatment of the standard "I'm Old-Fashioned." The CD concludes with full-tilt versions of Charlie Parker's "Confirmation" and "Moose the Mooch." There is generous solo space for all, with each tune getting a solid workout on this date that definitely manages to share with the listener the excitement generated by the quartet in Tokyo's Denen Coliseum.

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