Ron Carter: Little Waltz (1977)


Little Waltz


Ron Carter (piccolo bass)


Piccolo (Milestone 55004)

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Ron Carter (piccolo bass), Kenny Barron (piano), Buster Williams (bass), Ben Riley (drums).

Composed by Ron Carter


Recorded: Sweet Basil's, New York, New York in 1977


Rating: 89/100 (learn more)

Having two bass players in a band is like having two spouses -- friction and fireworks are almost inevitable. Duke Ellington briefly kept two bassists in his band after hiring the great Jimmy Blanton in 1939 while still keeping Billy Taylor in tow. My late friend Grover Sales, who saw Ellington perform the day Ben Webster joined this ensemble (creating what is even today known as the great "Webster-Blanton" band) liked to tell of Taylor walking off the bandstand in disgust, muttering: "I'm not going to stand here and watch that youngster play so much bass." Soon Ellington was back to one bass player, and domestic bliss permeated the bandstand. Several decades later, Ron Carter tries the same experiment -- with bassist Buster Williams sharing the small stage at Sweet Basil's with Ron, pianist Kenny Barron and drummer Ben Riley. But to preserve the peace, Carter has shifted to the piccolo bass, and moves it to the front of the bandstand as a solo instrument. The results are invigorating and exciting. Carter has always been a first-rate soloist, but on piccolo bass he comes across as even more free-flowing and dramatic. He stretches out here in a lyrical three-minute solo over the chords of his most famous composition. The Piccolo CD is a vital document of an important band that still has no imitators.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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