- Audio CD (February 25, 2003)
- Original Release Date: 1990
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Dreyfus
- ASIN: B000087JCF
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,170 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Audio CD, February 25, 2003
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Eight Plus is the first American release by the Ron Carter Nonet. With a cello quartet augmenting his regular ensemble of piano, bass, drums and percussion, Carter and his piccolo bass (the Plus of the albums title) are immersed in a wonderfully varied array of stylish and evocative compositions.
On Eight, the composer makes the cello quartet an equal partner in the ensemble. O.K. is a portrait in controlled, but exuberant swing. Rons favorite Leon Russell composition A Song For You takes on a haunting new dimension with the delicately slashing lines of the cellos. "To those fans who enjoy a bit of Oscar Pettiford swing...take this First Trip" says Carter about this composition, written in the solo style of the immortal bassist.
A provocative endeavor like this must be conceived fully to avoid chaos, but even more importantly to face the challenge of maintaining the freedom and spontaneity that is at the core of all great music in the jazz tradition. Ron Carter has met this challenge on all fronts and in doing so has created a magnificent piece of art.
Ron Carter - piccolo bass Stephen Scott piano Leon Maleson - bass Lewis Nash drums Steve Kroon - percussion Kermit Moore - cello Chase Morrison cello Carol Buck - cello Rachel Steuermann - cello
This is a great album, but considering Ron Carter's documented love for classical music, it's not the kind of record-with-strings expected from the legendary jazz bassist. The cellos that augment Carter's quintet here came to swing, get the blues, add poignant counterpoint, and take a visit to church. If there's an exception, it's the album's opus, "El Rompe Cabeza," which has an Astor Piazzola-meets-Maurice Ravel contemporary classical feel. Carter's bowed piccolo bass, maybe the highlight of the disc, replaces the bandoneon as the lead on this light tango and is a perfect foil to the tension created by the string quartet. Three of the compositions Carter resurrects from his Miles Davis and CTI days. These tunes--"Eight," "Little Waltz," and "First Trip"--are given sparkling, fresh arrangements. On "A Song For You," as he plays the melody, Carter arranges the strings in a setting befitting a classy pop standard, with echoes of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" and Stevie Wonder's "Village Ghetto Land." --Mark RuffinSee all Editorial Reviews
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Things open strongly enough with "Eight," an uptempo boppish number, one of two quite attractive Carter compositions, the other being "El Rompe Cabeza." The contrast between Carter's lead piccolo bass and the four cellos, providing imaginative fills and comping, is quite attractive. And Stephen Scott's piano solo zings along in a spritely manner. With a distinct Villa-Lobos vibe, "Eight" is probably the strongest cut on the disc. Carter's pizzicato double stopping makes a nice bridge. "El Rompe Cabeza," a faux classical number with a tango-like feel, also shines. Part of it is that the other players have a more prominent role: Steve Kroon's attractive percussion, esp., comes to the fore here. And Carter generally employs arco playing, which seems more suited to his instrument.
I wish I could be as enthusiastic about the other numbers, but they just seem to lack the impact of "Eight" and "El Rompe Cabeza." For one thing, not all styles are equally suited to this approach: lead piccolo bass just doesn't seem to have the necessary gravitas for the blues ("Blues for Bradley"). Also, by the third or fourth number the sonority of Carter's instrument begins to irritate. A prettified and bathetic "Song for You," the Leon Russell classic, is the low point. Trying to inject some kind--any kind--of interest, Carter plays an embarrassing ersatz solo, dripping with bent strings and fake emotion.
Another irritating thing about this disc is that, although it is a reissue, there is no indication of this on the outer packaging: For all intents and purposes, it appears to have been recorded and produced in 2003, the copyright and production symbols both bearing that date. It is only on the inside credits that one notes it was actually recorded in 1990. One supposes that since this is the first American release, Dreyfus can get away with this misleading recording information.
All in all, a disappointment, despite a couple of attractive numbers. 3 and 1/2 stars.
Highlights include "El Rompe Cabeza", featuring a great Carter solo, and "Eight", which is a reworking of John Coltrane's "Impressions." The only slight criticism of this collection is that it is from 1990 (only released in the USA in 2003) and does not feature some of the pieces currently played by the nonet.