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Jazz Night In America

Ron Carter at 85: tracks and stories from the life of a record-setting bassist

todayMay 12, 2023

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    Ron Carter at 85: tracks and stories from the life of a record-setting bassist NPR

Bassist Ron Carter Jonathan Chimene/WBGO

Walk into any record store, head to the jazz section and pull out an album at random (or tune into your favorite jazz public radio station) — there is a very good chance that NEA Jazz Master Ron Carter appears on whicever recording you end up listening to. Carter is the most-recorded jazz bassist, as officially certified by Guinness, and over the course of 2,200 albums and counting — from his tracks with Miles Davis in the 1960s to his album with Jack DeJohnette and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, which won a Grammy in 2022 — Carter’s discography reads like a definitive history of jazz. His chameleonic command of musical situations paired with his technical chops have made him a first-call bassist since he first landed on the scene, as well as outside of it. Records with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon and A Tribe Called Quest further illustrate Carter’s reach.

In celebration of Ron Carter’s 85th birthday, Jazz Night decided to do something special: a hang and listening party with Ron Carter and our host, Christian McBride. For the occasion, McBride and Ron handpicked tracks to check out from his mind-boggling catalog, some must-hear stories and a moment in the spotlight for the G.O.A.T. of jazz bass. “Like most bass players, we always feel like nobody knows we’re there.” says Carter. “We’re really back here doing something.”

Set List:

  1. Freedom Jazz Dance (Eddie Harris)
  2. Circle (Miles Davis)
  3. Solar (Davis)
  4. Sunshower (Kenny Barron)
  5. New York Standard Time (Ron Carter)
  6. Compared To What (Roberta Flack)
  7. Brandenburg Concerto 3 (J.S. Bach)
  8. Solitude (Eddie DeLange, Duke Ellington, Irving Mills)


Writer and Producer: Trevor Smith; Assistant Producer: Alex Ariff; Consulting Editor: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; VP, NPR Music: Keith Jenkins; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand.

Special thanks to JoAnne Jiminez, Sascha van Oertzen

Copyright 2023 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

Written by: NPR

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