Neither extravagantly experimental nor conservative, The Golden Striker presents a befittingly mature, somewhat brooding collection of tunes. Working within a guitar trio format with pianist Mulgrew Miller and guitarist Russell Malone, Carter offers nine tracks which include four of his own compositions, as well as one each by his band-mates. In order to emulate a "club" atmosphere, Carter, Miller and Malone recorded with little rehearsal, and with two exceptions layed down each tune on first takes. Executed with a refined attention to detail, the album as a whole presents solid musicianship and the blending of three well-matched yet distinct voices. Malone’s guitar sings soft, astute lines that play gracefully against Carter’s resonate, warm bass and Miller’s often almost classically melodic approach. With the unfortunate exception of missteps, "The Golden Striker" and "A Quick Sketch," all the album’s selections offer subtle readings of quite difficult arrangements.
It's hard to imagine that Bill Frisell at 55 is the youngster of this group. But he is by a long shot. Not that it matters in terms of musicality; rather, it's that younger modernism and its involvement with different musical genres that make Frisell such a welcome foil for the likes of two heavyweights like Paul Motian and Ron Carter. To say that this album is all over the place is an understatement. Just look at the tunes: from the slippery little grooving blues of "Eighty-One" by Carter and his former boss Miles Davis to the ditty "You Are My Sunshine" by Jimmie Davis, Thelonious Monk's "Raise Four" and "Misterioso," and traditional tunes like "Pretty Polly" and Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." These are just a few, but what they prove is everything. These three musicians sound so comfortable, it's like they've been playing together for years.
Saxophonist Houston Person and bassist Ron Carter have a duo partnership that goes back at least as far as their two 1990 recordings, Something in Common and Now's the Time! Since those albums, the legendary artists have released several more duo collaborations, each one a thoughtful and minimalist production showcasing their masterful command of jazz standards, blues, and bop. The duo's 2016 effort, the aptly titled Chemistry, is no exception and once again finds Person and Carter communing over a well-curated set of jazz standards. As on their previous albums, Chemistry is a deceptively simple conceit; just two jazz journeymen playing conversational duets on well-known jazz songs.
This special PBS soundtrack includes live recordings filmed at the Newport Jazz Festival for Ron's classic piece SOFT WINDS; a surprise bass duet session at The National Jazz Museum in Harlem with the enigmatic Christian McBride on WILLOW WEEP FOR ME; a session at the Blue Note with guitarist Bill Frisell on MY MAN'S GONE NOW; the first live performance of the two great bassists, Stanley Clarke and Ron playing BAG'S GROOVE, also at the Blue Note; and a joyful version of SWEET LORRAINE featuring Jon Batiste, released here for the first time.