Friday, June 24, 2011

Ron Carter's Masterful CTI Classic "All Blues"

Sony Masterworks has reissued in the USA, Ron Carter's All Blues, in a CTI-40th Anniversary Edition remastered from the original two-track analog tracks. It is presented in a softpack sleeve that replicates the original vinyl LP and iconic cover design. Carter, one of the greatest bassists in the history of jazz, was joined on this CTI session by a group that included Sir Roland Hanna on piano, Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone and Billy Cobham on drums with Richard Tee playing electric piano on one track. This 1973 session was originally issued in 1974 at a time when Carter may have been at his greatest popularity.

From the personnel listed above, one should not be surprised that this is a marvelously played collection of mostly blues related compositions. There is the elegant piano of Roland Hanna, the clean tenor sax of Henderson, the firm anchor of Carter and his bass with Cobham swinging. The performances come across as very precisely played with a chamber group feel to some extent. This is noticed on the opening,
A Feeling, a brisk finger snapping number, deftly performed. This is followed by Light Blue, where Hanna spare playing sets the mood on this tone poem before joined Cobham's light percussion and Carter's bass.

117 Special, Richard Tee's electric piano sets forth a dreamy mood under Henderson's saxophone lead. Henderson plays with a breathy tone, but little other tonal embellishment. He is followed by Carter for a thoughtful piccolo bass solo. Rufus starts as a trio performance, with Henderson and Carter engaging in a dialogue with Cobham adding embellishments and accents before Hanna enters with light, swinging, piano.  The centerpiece is  Miles Davis’ All Blues, on which Carter states the theme followed by Henderson whose solo builds with intensity with Cobham superb in support. Hanna's piano provides a brief bridge before Carter solos at length. Carter is unaccompanied for a remarkable performance on Will You Still Be Mine.

Ron Carter's
All Blues was immaculately played with thoughtfulness and elegance. While this writer might have preferred a bit more grit and fire during this blues-centered recording, one can appreciate the grace and skill exhibited. The remastering for CTI's 40th Anniversary enables all of the nuances of the performances here to be appreciated.

My review copy was provided by a publicist for this release.

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