Ron Carter

Ron Carter


Ron Carter is a legendary American jazz double bassist whose career spans more than 6 decades, and includes 3 Grammy awards, record-breaking number of recordings, and numerous iconic studio albums.


Ron Carter was born on May 4, 1937, in Ferndale, Michigan, and started his musical journey at the age of 10 when he first picked up the cello. However, it was the double bass that captured his heart and became his instrument of choice. He honed his craft at the Eastman School of Music and later at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied classical bass.

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, including the landmark album “Miles Smiles.” 

Carter also performed on some of Hancock, Williams and Shorter’s recordings during the 1960s for Blue Note. He was a sideman on many Blue Note recordings of the era, playing with Sam Rivers, Freddie Hubbard, Andrew Hill, Horace Silver, and others. He also played on soul-pop star Roberta Flack’s album First Take and Gil Scott Heron’s Pieces of a Man.

Ron Carter and Art Farmer scaled e1699017191838


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 + 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 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.

Beyond his accomplishments as a performer, Carter is also a respected educator and author. He has served as a faculty member of the Juilliard School, City College of New York, and others, imparting his wisdom and experience to aspiring musicians.

Ron Carter’s contribution to jazz is documented in a film Ron Carter: Finding The Right Notes, produced and directed by Peter Schnall. 


What keeps Ron Carter at the top of his artistic game is a life-long strive for excellence. This was evident when Carter was just starting, learning to play cello as a young boy. This excellence kept him pushing the boundaries of jazz when he was collaborating with Miles Davis. It’s this high standard that keeps him performing today after having achieved numerous successes.

Ron Carter’s dexterity, melodic sensibility and harmonic sophistication on the bass have few rivals in the history of jazz. In addition to the bass, he has also employed both the cello and the piccolo bass (a downsized bass pitched somewhere between cello and contrabass), one of the first musicians to use those instruments in jazz settings.

Read an interview with Ron Carter gave in Bass Player, in which he dives into his process, and explores the idea of what it means to be a great musician.

Carter’s brilliant technique, powerfully propulsive swing and deeply resonant sound has made his bass as distinctive an instrument as Miles Davis’s trumpet or Thelonious Monk’s piano. It’s a sound that links a formidable array of jazz greats – Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Sarah Vaughan, Stan Getz, Lee Morgan, Lena Horne, Cannonball Adderley, Helen Merrill, Charles Lloyd, Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard – alongside household names of pop, rock and soul, including Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Santana, Gil Scott-Heron and Erykah Badu. 
-Garth Cartwright, The Guardian

Enjoy this performance of Ron Carter – Live at Smoke Jazz Club with the Mike LeDonne Trio (2023)


Ron Carter and Art Farmer Sweet Basil 12 inch sleeve 3mm spine 71903 LP

We were fortunate to work with Ron Carter, along with Art Farmer, Billy Higgins and Cedar Walton on a historic Album, Live from Sweet Basil.

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 now available on vinyl

Hope you enjoy Ron Carter’s music as much as we do!

Arkadia Records Logo popup

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest releases, playlists, and exclusive Jazz video content.  No spam, just Jazz exclusives from our catalog.

You have Successfully Subscribed!