Ron Carter

So What

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Ron Carter's recordings as a leader have varied in shape and style, from his contemporary commercial CTI recordings, his Milestone LP's emphasizing the piccolo bass, more symphonic efforts, and straight-ahead efforts such as this one. With the extraordinary Kenny Barron at the piano and drummer Lewis Nash, Carter plays standards and four of his originals that all fall snugly into the modern mainstream of jazz. It's a relatively laid-back affair, as Barron's potential energy is for the most part subdued, while Nash and Carter lock in on a cooperative mindset. In lieu of balance, the pianist tenderly wafts through a ballad version of "My Foolish Heart," leads out quaintly on "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," and springs along happily during the Randy Weston evergreen "Hi-Fly." There's more of a challenge to Carter's original material, as the cute tune "It's About Time" offers up tricky tandem playing from the bassist and Barron, "The Third Plane" is polite bop as the pianist slightly extrapolates, surrounding Carter's talk-back type melodic inserts, and while the emotional content of the trio darkens on the pensive, anticipatory "Three More Days." There's a thin veil of swing and blues similar to the standard "Too Close for Comfort" on "Eddie's Theme," while the opener "So What," a song Carter played with Miles Davis and on his own a thousand times, sports his lead bass melody line with a freshness that is reinvented. Truly a team effort, this consistently well-played set should remind us all how brilliant these players are, especially with the cool Count Basie concept of "less is more" in mind.

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