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Ron Carter: Stardust

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The ubiquitous Ron Carter is rumored to have participated in more than 3,000 recordings. The source for that estimate, Blue Note Records, confirms that the bass virtuoso has recorded over 50 albums as a leader. Both figures are impressive, and his latest, Stardust, goes a long way toward explaining why he is constantly in demand

The reverence in which Carter is held as a player, composer and producer was evident even before the session began because the lineup he enlisted is a dream team: tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, pianist Sir Roland Hanna, vibist Joe Locke and drummer Lenny White. The concept the band bought into is a tribute to Oscar Pettiford, which is represented by three “great bass melodies,” three Carter originals and two standards. Pettiford is best honored with his leaping line “Bohemia After Dark” and the riff “Blues in the Closet,” and Carter contributes his answer to the rhetorical question “How Deep Is The Ocean?” with a clever bop line on its changes with “That Deep.”

Carter shows why he has no peers now. The title tune, accompanied just by Hanna, is tender and propulsive, a duality he also achieves on “The Man I Love,” which contains Golson’s finest moments. The real highlight is another Carter original, “Nearly,” in which the quintet proves it’s possible to swing soothingly, thanks in part to Locke’s evocation of Milt Jackson.

Commenting on the many first takes that Stardust contains, Carter remarked, “If the musicians you enlist buy into the concept and prepare for the recording by rehearsing you avoid the false starts.”

There’s nothing false about the startling Stardust.