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Ron Carter's Great Big Band (Sunnyside, 2011)

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Bassist and composer Ron Carter has accomplished just about everything possible in jazz from his famous tenure with Miles Davis to hundreds of recorded sessions as a leader or a sideman. But there's one exception up until now he has never led a big band. Now he has fulfilled this dream, with a seventeen member large ensemble playing originals and standards arranged by collaborator Bob Freedman. The selections the band play run the gamut from bass led originals like “Opus 15 (Theme for C.B.)" to nicely done performances of jazz standards. The standards themselves are a varied from Wayne Shorter's enigmatic “Footprints" to “St. Louis Blues" and the Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol composition “Caravan." The band is well rehearsed and plays the compositions beautifully, segueing from ensemble sections to short solo features easily. It is actually the brevity of the performances that works in the music's favor. Only one track, “Sweet Emma," clock in at over five minutes, and the lack of flashy soloing keeps the music focused on the ensemble playing. This album works very well, the music is focused and the band is on top of things from the beginning. For fans of large ensemble music this is a real treat with intricate playing and fine arrangements. Ron Carter's Great Big Band—amazon.com

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This story appears courtesy of Music and More by Tim Niland.
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