July 21, 2006

Michigan's Musical Connection: Ron Carter

I first heard of Ron Carter in 1978 or 1979 when I first went to work for a local independent record distributor in Livonia called Ami Distributors. I worked for Ami and the owners of that company for many years. The three gentlemen that owned the company gave me my start in the field of entertainment distribution in which I am still working. One man, in particular, was a mentor to me and I learned a great deal from this man. His name was Bobby "Sugar" Schwartz and he, along with Carl Mooradian and Harry "Babe" Manoogian owned the company.

Ami Distributors marketed several independent record labels. One of the largest was Fantasy Records. Fantasy had a varied stable of artist but perhaps the most recognized and profitable was "Credence Clearwater Revival". Fantasy had several subsidiary labels as well whose specialty genre was jazz. Prestige, Milestone, Riverside, Galaxy were some of the labels I remember from those days.

Ron Carter, as you will read from some bio information I found, has appeared on over 2000 recordings and performed with the likes of Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Stanley Turrentine, Eric Dolphy, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, Milt Jackson, and many others.
The epitome of class and elegance, though not stuffy, Ron Carter has been a world class bassist and cellist since the '60s. He's among the greatest accompanists of all time, but has also done many albums exhibiting his prodigious technique. He's a brilliant rhythmic and melodic player, who uses everything in the bass and cello arsenal; walking lines, thick, full, prominent notes and tones, drones and strumming effects, and melody snippets. His bowed solos are almost as impressive as those done with his fingers. Carter has been featured in clothing, instrument, and pipe advertisements; he's close to being the bass equivalent of a Duke Ellington in his mix of musical and extra-musical interests. Carter's nearly as accomplished in classical music as jazz, and has performed with symphony orchestras all over the world. He's almost exclusively an acoustic player; he did play electric for a short time in the late '60s and early '70s, but hasn't used it in many, many years. Carter began playing cello at ten. But when his family moved from Ferndale, MI, to Detroit, Carter ran into problems with racial stereotypes regarding the cello and switched to bass. He played in the Eastman School's Philharmonic Orchestra, and gained his degree in 1959. Read more here ...

You can also read more about Ron Carter by visiting his web site.

Update 9/03/06 - Bonus video snippet of Ron Carter on stage earlier this year.



Anonymous John said...

Hmmm, never heard of this fella, but Herbie Hancock is good listening. You mentioned "Manoogian", I wonder if this has anything to do with the Manoogian Mansion in Detroit??

July 25, 2006  
Blogger Dave Stone said...

Hey John,

As far as I know, there was no relation to the mansion or that family.

Babe was a real character though. The three owners were old friends and would fight openly and often. The first time I witnessed one of the brawls, I swore fists were gonna fly.

Babe and Carl were of Armenian descent and Bobby was Jewish. These guys were fiercely loyal to each other and the people that stuck with them during the leaner times.

I think I'll dedicate a post to these guys who gave me my first real start.

Thanks for asking.


July 25, 2006  

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