Ron Carter – Dear Miles
(Blue Note – 2007)
by Paula Edelstein
As the “ANCHOR” of Miles Davis’ classic 1960s quintet, bassist Ron Carter has enjoyed a prolific and fertile career of his own since he left the iconic trumpeter’s employ in 1968. With DEAR MILES, he pays tribute to Davis with a 10-track collection that features several compositions closely associated with Davis’ repertoires of the 50s and 60s in addition to two Carter originals and a couple of loosely related Davis tunes. By the late 1960s, Miles Davis had developed a ballad style like no other trumpet player. By placing the bell of his muted trumpet directly into the microphone, he created a sound as fragile as crystal and twice as delicate.
On “My Funny Valentine” Carter re-works this priceless ballad to include vibrant interchanges between pianist Stephen Scott and himself which emerge as beautiful, sweet, conversations with a sprinkled sampling of “When I Fall In Love.” Another great ballad associated with Miles Davis “Stella By Starlight”- also made the cut and features Carter taking the melodic lead with deep, full-toned bass lines. Carter successfully reduces the big band sound Gil Evans and Miles Davis created on “Gone” from their classic collaboration on PORGY & BESS by replacing Miles’ horn charts with a bright snare drum and piano. No need to cringe at the thought of another instrument filling the horn charts of Miles Davis!
It’s all good and it works. However, by not including “‘Round Midnight” a song so closely associated with Davis’ legendary career at Columbia records that he titled his debut set after the Thelonious Monk-penned classic, and “I Thought About You,” the ballad that made so many women answer his sexy clarion calls, listeners miss Carter’s take on these great, great ballads that introduced Miles to a whole new legion of fans. Nevertheless, Ron Carter makes DEAR MILES essential listening for anyone that is hankering for a classic jazz quartet that has it all. A MUST HAVE for all jazz aficionados.