Ron Carter is one of the most recorded bassists in jazz. In his mid-seventies at the time of these sessions, he is very much still at the top of his game as he leads the first big-band date of his own, with potent arrangements by conductor Robert M. Freedman and including some of New York's busiest musicians, including Jerry Dodgion, Steve Wilson, Wayne Escoffery, and Scott Robinson in the woodwind section, brass players Steve Davis, Douglas Purviance, and Greg Gisbert, plus pianist Mulgrew Miller and drummer Lewis Nash, among others. Freedman's charts are short and sweet, all of them under five minutes, with much of the focus on imaginative writing and Carter's melodic bass central in the mix. The material spans from the 1920s to the present, played with imagination. The opening "Caravan" is taken far from its roots, transformed into a breezy bop vehicle, even slipping in a dissonant snippet of "Hot House." The setting of Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" retains its Latin flavor, with a lush introduction by the brass and reeds and strong solos by Miller and Carter. Carter's inventive bass provides the undercurrent for the brisk interpretation of Wayne Shorter's marvelous jazz standard "Footprints," while the upbeat performance of Gerry Mulligan's "Line for Lyons" would have pleased its composer. Carter has long been a prolific composer, and his "Loose Change" is a funky affair with marvelous interplay among the brass and reeds, while "Opus 1.5 (Theme for C.B.)" is mellow and somber, with Charles Pillow's mellow English horn prominent and an intricate solo by Carter. With this delightful big-band date, the veteran bassist continues to surprise and delight listeners during a career spanning five-plus decades.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden