Ron Carter

Yellow & Green

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A low point for bassist Ron Carter, this aimless set suffers from the malaise that hit the jazz scene after the fusion boom of the late '60s and early '70s. Somewhere about the time of this 1976 release, fusion's creative energies were being overtaken by a new drive to blend jazz with pop music. The theory was this would expand the jazz audience. The reality was music that only alienated jazz fans and held limited appeal to pop audiences. Yellow and Green is a representative product of this era. For the most part, it's a hollow, pointless exercise, afflicted by the stylistic tug of war inherent in the jazz-pop hybrids of the late '70s. The writing is directionless and the playing mainly indifferent. The LP chiefly serves as a showcase for Carter's overdubbed piccolo and acoustic basses. Unfortunately, the performances are too often a clutter of busy fingers, with the bassist's overly enthusiastic virtuosity getting in the way of any chance for musical dialogue between his instruments. Not surprisingly, the best tracks -- the respectable ballad "Opus 1.5" and a jaunty version of Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy" -- are the most straight-ahead, done without overdubbing and with some decent piano from Kenny Barron. Elsewhere, Don Grolnick chimes blandly on electric piano and Hugh McCracken contributes wispy guitar accompaniment that serves no purpose, while drummer Billy Cobham tries to keep from being overwhelmed by the dullness of it all. An episode best forgotten.

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