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Ron Carter: The Bass And I

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Forget the name, the title, the aura of legend. This is a decent little trio album by a primo rhythm section, with extra added percussion, without bass-clef sturm und drang. Carter doesn’t even give himself a boffo feature, just a low-key extra chorus on “I Remember Clifford.” The set is slowed only by his limp compositions and lack of charts. Three standards and a jazz classic go well enough, and so does an original blues. But two nine-minute slow-loping sambas back to back, with an excess of vamping, hogtie the date.

The trio’s cool. Stephen Scott is a pianist worth listening to anytime, whether he’s backing up Sonny Rollins, Dianne Reeves or Steve Turre. He knows balance, contrast, the blues, all of it, and he’s solid and unstinting. Lewis Nash has played great drums in many bands; he too fills his role admirably. Percussionist Steve Kroon is tacked on a bit too often for obtrusive special effects.

Things start snappy and fade mid-set. They do “You and The Night and The Music” in brisk 4/4 with bongos vs. traps over slick walking. “Someday My Prince Will Come” as a gentle waltz sports nice modulations and suspensions (Carter’s solo quotes “Cabin In The Sky” and “Boat That’s Leaving Soon For NY”) and a tasty coda. “Shadow of Your Smile” works well as a suave, sliding samba, but what starts as another tasty coda drags on for two minutes of “no, you end it.” On Carter’s own decent blues he solos with soulful multi-stops and glissing, trades fours with Nash brushery. His “Mr. Bow Tie,” another OK samba, again lapses into vamp-itis, this time midway, with Kroon’s jackassy cuica. “Double Bass,” a too-similar samba groover, with a straight four middle, bogs after Scott’s solo. “Clifford” is respectful, but indifferent, as if they just ran out of ideas.