Ron Carter

Ron Carter: Brandenburg Concerto

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The distinguished jazz bassist's third "classical" album on jazz's Blue Note label is one of those exercises best heard as a one-off bit of live fun in the artist's living room. The title track finds a string orchestra led by Kermit Moore performing a perfectly straight, if not terribly neat, run-through of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, with Carter playing a bass continuo above (rather than below) the group, as well as soloing in spotlit passages. The jazz solos grate uncomfortably against the metrical classical strings; it sounds superimposed, forced, and ultimately pointless. The "Aria" from Grieg's Holberg Suite and Handel's "Largo" from Xerxes are also fairly straightforward from a classical point of view -- and not well played at that. However, the straight portions of Ravel's "Pavanne pour une Infante Defunt" and Bartók's "Joc cu Bata" are interspersed with more comfortable, swinging passages for jazz trio. Carter's own "Desert Winds" for himself and cello quartet is actually the most successful work on the program; the Bartók-influenced classical and jazz elements are better integrated, and one doesn't have any classical originals buzzing around in one's head as a reference point.

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