Mingus, Carter: Back to Bassists

Boston will get a taste of two of the best jazz bass players in the country over the next 10
By Payne L. Templeton

Boston will get a taste of two of the best jazz bass players in the country over the next 10 days-Ron Carter will be at the Jazz Workshop Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by Charlie Mingus at the Paradise Club on Nov. 6

Mingus, Carter's senior, was one of the '60s bassists who brought the bass into maturity as a jazz instrument, pioneering its use for improvisation, rather than solely rhythm. Mingus remains the most famous of these bassists, and is one of the few bass players now receiving acclaim for original composition.

If it is true, as a friend of mine contends, that a Mingus album gracing your record collection makes people think you're cool, then the 1974 recording "Changes Two" is no mean buy; you get instant coolness and some great Mingus, captured during one of his milder periods. A collection of Mingus recordings entitled "The Art Of Charles Mingus" provides a good introduction to his work from 1957 to 1961.

Ron Carter has remained content to work within the wide limits that Mingus and his early contemporaries established. Even early in his career, Carter was indebted to Mingus for giving the bass a major role in jazz improvisation. And yet, he did not follow Mingus into the avant-grade line of jazz; he did not abandon the classic role of the bass as a rhythm instrument.

Pianist McCoy Tyner's compositions, which feature straight-ahead improvisations around themes with strong rhythms, seem perfect for Carter. While Keith Jarrett is probably the premier jazz piano soloist today, Tyner is the greatest group player and composer. And Tyner's albums, especially the trio recordings, bring out the best in Carter. "Trident"--a trio recording featuring Elvin Jones on drums--is an amazing album, from Tyner's innovative use of the harpsicord to Carter's short-and-to-the-point solos. Carter, who is now one of the top recording bassists, also plays on Tyner's "Fly With The Wind" and "Supertrios." The latter is not as uniformly strong an album as "Trident," but does include an excellent Tyner-Carter duet on Ellington's classic tune, "Preludes to a Kiss."

It should be interesting to see Carter lead a group--and that's what he'll be doing November 1 and 2 at the Workshop.

Saxophonist Grover Washington will be playing at Paul's Mall Sunday thru Wednesday. Washington's pieces tend toward the funky; and while some of his songs seem uninspired, a few of his compositions--including "Mister Magic"--have gained critical and popular acclaim.

The Amphion, a bi-weekly coffeehouse and jazz workshop, will open its 1977 season next month in Quincy House. The Quincy House Music Society, which runs The Amphion, would like to hear from people interested in organizing the shows, and from musicians who want to perform. Call Jennifer Cohen at 498-3145 for more information.