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Ron Carter PBS Documentary: 'Finding the Right Notes' makes JAZZIZ - The Week in Jazz

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The Week in Jazz is your roundup of new and noteworthy stories from the jazz world. It’s a one-stop destination for the music news you need to know. Let’s take it from the top.

JAZZIZ - MATT MICUCCI writes….New Ron Carter Documentary to Premiere on PBS: Finding the Right Notes, a two-hour documentary on jazz legend Ron Carter directed by Peter Schnall, will air on PBS on October 21. The film reveals poignant and joyful details of the bass great’s life, from his early years as a cello student in high school through his years with the Miles Davis Quintet in the 1960s and into his vital solo career that continues to expand. On the same date, the documentary’s exclusive soundtrack of never-before-heard Carter performances will be released as a CD/double vinyl recording by Germany-based IN+OUT Records.

The epitome of class and elegance without the stuffiness, Ron Carter has been a world-class bassist and cellist since the '60s. He's among the greatest accompanists of all time, and has made many albums exhibiting his prodigious technique. Carter is a brilliant rhythmic and melodic player who uses everything in his bass and cello arsenal: walking lines; thick, full, prominent notes and tones; drones and strumming effects; and melody snippets. His bowed solos are almost as impressive as those done with his fingers. Carter has been featured in clothing, instrument, and pipe advertisements; he's close to being the bass equivalent of a Duke Ellington in his mix of musical and extra-musical interests. Carter is nearly as accomplished in classical music as jazz, and has performed with symphony orchestras all over the world. He's almost exclusively an acoustic player; he did play electric for a short time in the late '60s and early '70s, but he didn't use it for many, many years. Famously, he was a member of Miles Davis' second great quintet of the '60s, but he has regularly issued his own eclectic albums like 1978's A Song for You with four cellos, 1995's Mr. Bow-Tie, and 2011's Ron Carter's Great Big Band. Carter has also joined other musicians on a number of engaging duet and trio recordings, including a classic 1972 session with Jim Hall, Alone Together, 1989's Duets with Helen Merrill, 2002's Dialogues with Houston Person, and 2016's The Purity of Turf with Ethan Iverson, among others.

Far CryCarter began playing cello at ten; however, when his family moved from Ferndale to Detroit, Michigan, Carter ran into problems with racial stereotypes regarding the cello and switched to bass. He played in the Eastman School's Philharmonic Orchestra, and gained his degree in 1959. He moved to New York and played in Chico Hamilton's quintet with Eric Dolphy, while also enrolling at the Manhattan School of Music. He made some of his earliest recordings during this period, including playing on Dolphy's Far Cry. Carter earned his master's degree in 1961. After Hamilton returned to the West Coast in 1960, Carter stayed in New York and played with Dolphy and Don Ellis, cutting his first records with them. He worked with Randy Weston and Thelonious Monk while playing and recording with Jaki Byard in the early '60s. Carter also toured and recorded with Bobby Timmons' trio and played with Cannonball Adderley. He joined Art Farmer's group for a short time in 1963 before he was tapped to become a member of Miles Davis' band.