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Ron Carter - A Benchmark for Professional Musicians / Oregon Music News interview

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Ask someone in the Jazz community about Ron Carter, and you may hear that he has a reputation for being a bit temperamental when interacting with certain players or people in the industry. If one wishes to, they can easily find stories from the past that tell of Ron becoming upset with someone at a session or maybe scolding a news reporter for their ignorance. carter_findingtherightnotes_cm

It's even recounted in his 2009 biography by Downbeat writer Dan Ouellette that while he was a member of the famous Miles Davis Quintet in the 1960's, he nearly walked out on Miles right before a west coast tour because the band hadn't been paid from the previous week. However, with any examination at all, it's clear to see that this is not an ego trip. In fact, it is the opposite. It's a tack that's not frequently found these days in professional music called "upholding standards" – not the ones that you play, but the ones that you live by.

It boils down to a respect for the process, and when you have worked hard to attain a reputation and a place in this industry, you respect it, and you can't help but have opinions about those who didn't learn or forget to hold that respect. Not even a musical behemoth like Miles Davis was immune from the fundamental rules that govern a true professional like Ron Carter.

There is another image of Ron out there, as spoken by his peers and music professionals who above all, defend Ron as the most reliable, trustworthy, sensitive player they know and how he is their number one call on every gig, regardless of the challenges. And it is actually this reputation that causes the other, because this one is much harder to attain, more difficult to maintain, and can evaporate instantly if the wrong choices are made. Those juicy stories of past conflict are really just reverberations of reputation maintenance. Yet, they are still the ones that filter into the headlines and rumors of the main stream. It's easy to tell which Ron is the real one, he's the one up there on stage, making all the right choices night after night. Watch him at any gig: always impeccably dressed, punctual, articulate, a towering posture standing with even a taller instrument, his attention focused to a razors edge. With every note he commands attention, nay, he demands it.

There are plenty of column inches dedicated to less disciplined musicians out there acting the fool, squandering resources in a studio session, or maybe losing it out on the road. Less often is that space used to outline a real role model for the professional musician. If you happen to need a perfect example for a monster player who also keeps his ship together, then look no further.

Oregon Music News got to talk with Ron Carter about his music and the trio he will be bringing to the PDX Jazz Festival 2015: