Ron Carter

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This article is about the jazz double-bassist. For other uses, see Ron Carter (disambiguation).
Ron Carter
Ron plays.JPG
Carter in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 2008
Background information
Birth name Ronald Levin Carter
Born (1937-05-04) May 4, 1937 (age 78)
Ferndale, Michigan, U.S.
Genres Orchestral jazz
Mainstream jazz
Third Stream
Avant-garde jazz
Occupation(s) Professor
Jazz musician
Instruments Double bass
Piccolo bass
Electric bass
Years active 1960–present
Labels Blue Note, CTI, Embryo, Prestige, Milestone, Sunnyside

Ron Carter (born Ronald Levin Carter, May 4, 1937) is an American jazz double-bassist. His appearances on over 2,500 albums make him one of the most-recorded bassists in jazz history. Carter is also an acclaimed cellist who has recorded numerous times on that instrument.[1] He was elected to the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 2012.[2]

Early life[edit]

Carter was born in Ferndale, Michigan. He started to play cello at the age of 10, but when his family moved to Detroit, he ran into difficulties regarding the racial stereotyping of classical musicians and instead moved to bass. He attended the historic Cass Technical High School in Detroit, and, later, the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he played in its Philharmonic Orchestra. He gained his bachelor's degree at Eastman in 1959, and in 1961 a master's degree in double bass performance from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.

His first jobs as a jazz musician were with Jaki Byard and Chico Hamilton. His first records were made with Eric Dolphy (another former member of Hamilton's group) and Don Ellis, in 1960. His own first date as leader, Where?, with Eric Dolphy, Charlie Persip, Mal Waldron, George Duvivier, and a date also with Dolphy called Out There with George Duvivier and Roy Haynes and Carter on cello; its advanced harmonies and concepts were in step with the third stream movement.


Carter came to fame via the second great Miles Davis Quintet in the early 1960s, which also included Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams. Carter joined Davis's group in 1963, appearing on the album Seven Steps to Heaven and the follow-up E.S.P., the latter being the first album to feature only the full quintet. It also featured three of Carter's compositions (the only time he contributed compositions to Davis's group). He stayed with Davis until 1968 (when he was replaced by Dave Holland), and participated in a couple of studio sessions with Davis in 1969 and 1970. Although he played electric bass occasionally during this period, he has subsequently eschewed that instrument entirely, and now plays only acoustic bass.

Carter also performed on some of Hancock, Williams and Shorter's recordings during the sixties for Blue Note Records. He was a sideman on many Blue Note recordings of the era, playing with Sam Rivers, Freddie Hubbard, Duke Pearson, Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill, Horace Silver and others.

After leaving Davis, Carter was for several years a mainstay of CTI Records, making albums under his own name and also appearing on many of the label's records with a diverse range of other musicians. Notable musical partnerships in the '70s and '80s included Joe Henderson, Houston Person, Hank Jones, and Cedar Walton. During the 1970s he was a member of the New York Jazz Quartet.

In 1986, Carter played acoustic bass on "Big Man on Mulberry Street" on Billy Joel's album "The Bridge".

Later life[edit]

Carter performing at the European Jazz Expò 2007

He appears on the alternative hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest's influential album The Low End Theory on a track called "Verses from the Abstract". He also appears as a member of the jazz combo the Classical Jazz Quartet.

In 1994, Carter appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation album, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African American community, was heralded as "Album of the Year" by TIME. In 2001, Carter collaborated with Black Star and John Patton to record "Money Jungle" for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album, Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington.

Carter is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Music Department of The City College of New York, having taught there for twenty years,[3] and received an honorary Doctorate from the Berklee College of Music, in Spring 2005.[4] He joined the faculty of the Juilliard School in New York City in 2008, teaching bass in the school's Jazz Studies program. Carter made a notable appearance in Robert Altman's 1996 film, Kansas City. The end credits feature him and fellow bassist Christian McBride duetting on "Solitude".

Ron Carter sits on the Advisory Committee of the Board of Directors of The Jazz Foundation of America as well as the Honorary Founder's Committee.[5] Carter has worked with the Jazz Foundation since its inception to save the homes and the lives of America's elderly jazz and blues musicians including musicians that survived Hurricane Katrina.[6]

Carter appeared as himself in an episode of the HBO series Treme entitled "What Is New Orleans."

Carter's authorized biography, Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes, by Dan Ouellette, was published by ArtistShare in 2008.

In 2013, Carter was one of four judges at Jazz at Lincoln Center's 18th Annual Essentially Ellington competition and festival.


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Pepper Adams

With Toshiko Akiyoshi

With Geri Allen

With Gene Ammons

With Roy Ayers

With Chet Baker

With Gato Barbieri

With Joey Baron

With Gary Bartz

With George Benson

With Bob Brookmeyer

With Ray Bryant

With Kenny Burrell

With Henry Butler

  • The Village (Impulse!, 1987)

With Jaki Byard

With Donald Byrd

With Billy Cobham

With Alice Coltrane

With Harry Connick, Jr.

With Chick Corea

With Hank Crawford

With Tadd Dameron

With Miles Davis

With Eli Degibri

  • Israeli Song (2010)

With Paul Desmond

With Eric Dolphy

With Lou Donaldson

With Charles Earland

With Don Ellis

With Art Farmer

With Roberta Flack

With Bill Frisell

With Johnny Frigo

With Red Garland

  • Crossings (1977)
  • Strike Up The Band (1977)
  • Red Alert (1977)

With Stan Getz

With Astrud Gilberto

With Giorgio

  • Party Of The Century (2010)

With Benny Golson

With Johnny Griffin

With Jim Hall

  • Concierto (CTI, 1975)
  • Live at Village West (1984)
  • Telephone (1985)

With Chico Hamilton

With Johnny Hammond

With Herbie Hancock

With Barry Harris

With Eddie Harris

With Gene Harris

With Coleman Hawkins

With Joe Henderson

With Andrew Hill

With Freddie Hubbard

With Bobby Hutcherson

With Jackie and Roy

With Milt Jackson

With Antonio Carlos Jobim

With Billy Joel

With Hank Jones

With Ivan "Boogaloo Joe" Jones

With Quincy Jones

With Sam Jones

With Steve Kuhn and Gary McFarland

With Yusef Lateef

With Hubert Laws

With Johnny Lytle

With Junior Mance

With Herbie Mann

With Arif Mardin

With Howard McGhee

With Charles McPherson

With Meeco

  • Amargo Mel (Connector, 2009)

With Helen Merrill

  • Duets (1987)

With Wes Montgomery

With James Moody

With Airto Moreira

With Idris Muhammad

With Oliver Nelson

With David "Fathead" Newman

With the New York Jazz Quartet

  • In Concert in Japan (1975)

With Hermeto Pascoal

With Rosa Passos

  • Entre Amigos (2003)

With Duke Pearson

With Houston Person

With Austin Peralta

  • Maiden Voyage (2006)

With Pony Poindexter

With Sam Rivers

With Shirley Scott

With Gil Scott-Heron

With Don Sebesky

With Bud Shank

With Marlena Shaw

With Woody Shaw

With Wayne Shorter

With Horace Silver

With Paul Simon

  • "Run That Body Down" on Paul Simon (Columbia Records, 1972)

With Grace Slick

With Jimmy Smith

  • Off the Top (1982)

With Phoebe Snow

With Sonny Stitt

With Ed Summerlin

With Gábor Szabó

With Livingston Taylor

With Buddy Terry

With Ed Thigpen

With Bobby Timmons

With Charles Tolliver

With A Tribe Called Quest

With Stanley Turrentine

With McCoy Tyner

With Mal Waldron

With Cedar Walton

With Grover Washington Jr.

With Randy Weston

With Kai Winding

With Leo Wright



External links[edit]