Ron Carter (NEA Jazz Master)

About Ron Carter


Ron Carter & Art Farmer: Live from Sweet Basil (with Cedar Walton & Billy Higgins – Vinyl

Ron Carter & Art Farmer: Live from Sweet Basil (with Cedar Walton & Billy Higgins) – CD & DVID

Herbie Hancock Trio: Hurricane! (with Ron Carter & Billy Cobham)

NEA Jazz Master Ron Carter is among the most original, prolific, and influential bassists in jazz. He has recorded over 2200 albums and, as the most recorded bassist in history, he has a Guinness world record to prove it! Over his 60 year career, he has recorded with many of the jazz legends like Lena Horne, Bill Evans, B.B. King, Dexter Gordon, Wes Montgomery, Bobby Timmons, Eric Dolphy, Cannonball Adderley and others. From 1963 to 1968, he was a member of the acclaimed Miles Davis Quintet. After leaving the quintet he embarked on a prolific 50-year free-lance career that spanned vastly different music genres and continues to this day. He recorded with Aretha Franklin, appeared on the seminal hip-hop album Low End Theory with a Tribe Called Quest.

Ron Carter in Jazz

Over his 60 year career, Ron Carter has recorded with many of the jazz greats greats like Lena Horne, Bill Evans, B.B. King, Dexter Gordon, Wes Montgomery, Bobby Timmons, Eric Dolphy, Cannonball Adderley and Jaki Byard. He can be heard on many iconic jazz records of the 60’s and 70’s such as Speak No Evil, Maiden Voyage, Red Clay, Speak Like a Child, Nefertiti and Miles Smiles.

Ron Carter began his musical journey by learning to play cello, at age 10. One of the many students aspiring to be musicians in the Detroit public schools, he switched to the bass at Cass Tech High School. He studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and eventually made his way to New York City, where he earned his master’s degree in Music from the Manhattan School of Music in 1961.

Carter moved to New York and played in Chico Hamilton’s quintet with Eric Dolphy, while also enrolling at the Manhattan School of Music. After Hamilton returned to the West Coast in 1960, Carter stayed in New York and played with Dolphy and Don Ellis, cutting his first records with them. He worked with Randy Weston and Thelonious Monk, while playing and recording with Jaki Byard in the early ’60s. Carter also toured and recorded with Bobby Timmons’ Trio, and played with Cannonball Adderley. He joined Art Farmer’s group for a short time in 1963. In the 1960s, Carter emerged as a prominent figure in the jazz scene, notably as a member of the Second Great Miles Davis Quintet, alongside Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, and Wayne Shorter. His collaboration with Davis during this period produced some of the most innovative and influential jazz recordings of all time.

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Ron Carter As A Leader

Ron Carter led his own bands since the early 1970s. Carter also contributed many arrangements and compositions to both his groups and other bands. He’s done duo recordings with either Cedar Walton or Jim Hall. Carter’s recorded for Embryo/Atlantic, CTI, Milestone, Timeless, EmArcy, Galaxy, Elektra, and Concord, eventually landing at Blue Note for LPs including 1997’s The Bass and I, 1998’s So What, and 1999’s Orfeu. When Skies Are Grey surfaced in early 2001, followed a year later by Stardust, Carter’s tribute to the late bassist Oscar Pettiford. In 2006 another tribute album was released, Dear Miles, dedicated to Miles Davis, also on Blue Note.

Carter continues to do worldwide tours with his various groups. The Golden Striker Carter Trio, The Foursight quartet, the Ron Carter Nonet and Ron Carter’s Great Big Band.

Ron Carter In The Modern Age

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ron Carter continued experimenting with musical styles and genres. He contributed to the alternative hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest’s influential album The Low End Theory. He also appeared 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 + CoolThe 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 magazine.

In May 2022, Carter celebrated his birthday by releasing an NPR Tiny Desk Concert recorded at the Blue Note Jazz Club featuring Russell Malone and Donald Vega.

Carter continues to record as a sideman, most recently appearing on Daniele Cordisco’s 2023 album Bitter Head.

In 1998 Ron Carter was honored as an NEA Jazz Master. In 2012 he has been inducted into the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame.

Ron Carter as an Educator

Carter has lectured, conducted, and performed at clinics and master classes, instructing jazz ensembles and teaching the business of music at numerous universities. He was Artistic Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Studies while it was located in Boston and, after 18 years on the faculty of the Music Department of The City College of New York, he is now Distinguished Professor Emeritus.  He also taught at the Juilliard School and at Manhattan School of Music.

Carter earned  seven honorary doctorates; Manhattan School of Music (1998), the New England Conservatory of Music (1999), Berklee (2005), University of Rochester (2010), University of Michigan (2016), Juilliard (2018), Clark University (2023).

He was the 2002 recipient of the prestigious Hutchinson Award from the Eastman School at the University of Rochester.

In 2021 he received the Satchmo Award from the Louis Armstrong Foundation for his lasting contribution to jazz as an educator.

Ron Carter In Film

In addition to scoring and arranging music for many films, including some projects for Public Broadcasting System, Carter composed music for A Gathering of Old Men, starring Lou Gosset Jr., The Passion of Beatrice directed by Bertrand Tavernier, and Blind Faith starring Courtney B. Vance.

In 2022 PBS premiered the full-lenth feature film documentary of Carter’s Life and Legend – Finding the Right Notes. Many jazz documentaries feature the Maestro because of his indelible contribution to the genre including Ken Burns’ Jazz, Birth of the Cool about Miles Davis, It Must be Schwing: The Blue Note Story. He also appeared as himself in HBO’s hit series Treme and was the bassist on soundtracks of Twin Peaks and Bird.

Ron Carter With Arkadia Records

Ron Carter recorded a number of Albums with Arkadia Records.

The latest addition is Ron Carter & Art Farmer: Live from Sweet Basil (with Cedar Walton & Billy Higgins). Four of the world’s most respected musicians, all honored as NEA Jazz Masters, come together for a memorable night of jazz…live from New York’s Sweet Basil, one of the most prestigious and historic jazz clubs anywhere! This state-of-the-art production marks the first time these legendary musicians have played together on the same stage. The recording is available on Vinyl, CD and DVD.

Ron Carter also appears on these albums:

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