Ron Carter – Blues Farm {Epic}


Review by Nathan Bush (allmusic.com)

In 1968, having completed a five-year stint with Miles Davis, Ron Carter’s career was wide open. Finding himself in typically high demand, the bassist decided not to make any long-term commitments (though he continued to join individual recording dates), opting instead to develop his solo career. In 1971, he released Uptown Conversation (Atlantic). Shortly after, he signed to the CTI label, releasing Blues Farm in 1973. The bass is rarely found in such a prominent role, its melodic qualities typically being subordinate to rhythmic ones. The presence of a pianist, guitarist, and two percussionists on Blues Farm frees Carter to explore both realms. Working with Davis was obviously a valuable experience. On numbers like “Footprints” (from Miles Smiles, 1965), Carter was required to extend and compress time, a technique that is second nature to him on Blues Farm. Dense, dexterous runs are broken up by long, bending lines and shades of blues phrasing, all executed with absolute grace. His playing becomes slightly imposing on “Django.” While it’s great to hear him lead the group on a tour through the song’s shifting rhythms, the accompanists aren’t allowed much space. Carter’s playing is best when more deeply integrated. On the title track, he engages in a wonderful exchange with flutist Hubert Laws, with the two swapping solos back and forth. On “Hymn for Him,” his probing lines enrich the song, pushing its narrative forward. The best comes last as the group rides “R2, M1” to the album’s conclusion. The song subsists largely on the group’s energy (the most they display outwardly on the album) and Carter’s deep, repetitious groove. Unfortunately, great musicianship does not always make for compelling results. Blues Farm’s excursions are enjoyable, but somewhat reserved. Both the compositions and performances avoid strong emotions in favor of pleasing palettes of color and texture. The early-’70s production values only enhance this by softening the bed of musical tones. The resulting polish tranquilizes the sound and ultimately dates the album.

Tracks:
01 – Blues Farm
02 – A Small Ballad
03 – Django
04 – A Hymn for Him
05 – Two-Beat Johnson
06 – R2, M1

Personnel:
Ron Carter – bass, piccolo bass
Billy Cobham – drums
Hubert Laws – flutes
Ralp MacDonald – percussion
Bob James – electric piano
Richard Tee – organ, electric piano
Gene Bertoncini, Sam Brown – electric guitar

Recorded at Van Gelder Studios, January 10, 1973.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Stanley Turrentine – Salt Song {SONY}


Review by Steve Huey (allmusic.com)

Stanley Turrentine’s stint with Creed Taylor’s CTI label may not have produced any out-and-out classics on the level of the very best LPs by Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, or George Benson, but the bluesy tenorist’s output was consistently strong and worthwhile for all but the most stridently anti-fusion listeners. Salt Song was Turrentine’s second album for CTI, and while it’s perhaps just a small cut below his debut Sugar, it’s another fine, eclectic outing that falls squarely into the signature CTI fusion sound: smooth but not slick, accessible but not simplistic. In general, keyboardist Eumir Deodato’s arrangements have plenty of light funk and Brazilian underpinnings, the latter often courtesy of percussionist Airto Moreira. The first three cuts are the most memorable, beginning with a ten-minute exploration of the abrupt time signature shifts of Freddie Hubbard’s “Gibraltar.” Though a hard bop version might have returned to the theme a little less often, Turrentine’s solo sections are full of ideas, befitting one of his favorite pieces of the period; plus, guitarist Eric Gale shines as both a rhythm and lead player. The traditional gospel tune “I Told Jesus” features Turrentine at his bluesiest and earthiest, with snatches of ethereal choir vocals floating up behind him. Milton Nascimento’s title track, naturally, has the strongest Brazilian flavor of the program, and Turrentine skillfully negotiates its frequent shifts in and out of double time. The 1997 CD reissue also includes Nascimento’s “Vera Cruz” as a bonus track. All in all, Salt Song has dated well, partly because the arrangements don’t overemphasize electric piano, but mostly on the strength of Turrentine’s always-soulful playing.

Tracks:
01 – Gibraltar
02 – I Told Jesus
03 – Salt Song
04 – I Haven’t Got Anything Better to Do
05 – Storm
06 – Vera Cruz (bonus)

Personnel:
Stanley Turrentine – tenor saxophone
Ron Carter, Russell George – bass
Billy Cobham, Airto Moreira – drums
Airto Moreira, Joao Palma, Dom Um Romao – percussion
Eumir Deodato, Horace Parlan, Richard Tee – piano/electric piano/organ
Eric Gale, Sivuca – guitar
Hubert Laws, George Marge, Romeo Penque, Jerome Richardson – flute
Julius Brand, Paul Gershman, Julie Held, Leo Kahn, Harry Katzman, Joe Malin – violin
Harold Coletta – viola
Charles McCracken, Alan Shulman – cello
Margaret Branch, Brenda Bryant, Patricia Smith – voices

Arranged and conducted by Eumir Deodato
Tracks 1-5 recorded at Van Gelder Studios, July 7 & 13, 1971
Track 6 recorded at Van Gelder Studios, April 23, 1971

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork