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Review: Ron Carter’s Cartography

Review: Ron Carter's Cartography

Bass Books

Review: Ron Carter’s Cartography

Review: Ron Carter’s Cartography

Ron Carter’s Cartography…

If you have been under a rock you have probably never heard of Mr. Ron Carter however, I am betting that whether you know his name or not, you have definitely heard him!

Mr. Carter has recorded with virtually everyone well, maybe not Black Sabbath, but close! His resume includes:

  • Miles Davis
  • Chet Baker
  • Freddie Hubbard
  • George Benson
  • Michael Franks
  • Terence Blanchard
  • Eric Dolphy
  • Billy Cobham
  • Roberta Flack
  • And on and on!

He recently completed, in my opinion, one of the most important books for bassists and these particular concepts can be used by ALL MUSICIANS!

It is called “Cartography” and features transcriptions of “Autumn Leaves” over a 5 year period when he was with the Miles Davis Quintet.

What makes this book so important is threefold:

  1. You are privy to not one but 4 or 5 choruses of the tune so you can see how his bassline develops
  2. You follow the same musicians over 5 years playing the same song as the first tune of the set and you see how Ron’s lines create springboards for the other musicians to explore
  3. You see how the chosen bass notes evolve the chord changes into new and different structures. This is truly a history lesson, a reading lesson, and most importantly, a listening lesson.

Mr. Carter, through the wonders of technology, provides the QR codes so you can follow along with the actual live recordings and hear for yourself the amazing contributions these basslines create for the other musicians.

A couple of weeks back, I was on a Zoom conference call with Mr. Carter where he gave a host of bass players the nuts and bolts of this new way of looking at transcriptions. He elucidated the need for transcription procedures going forward to look at more than one chorus because:

  • a- that chorus may not be the best one
  • b- only one chorus does not illustrate the development of the line
  • c- the development of the line may include substitute changes

This is a monumental work!

During the Zoom conference, I had the opportunity to ask a question and make an observation which was how important the “listening component” was. Being able to listen to each recording over and over before tackling the piece gives you so much more information to work with. As a matter of fact, I brought up the book by pianist Ran Blake, “The Primacy of the Ear,” which assists you in developing your ears and makes a great companion to this treatise.

(Oh, and by the way Mr. Carter, the vocalist was Jeanne Lee!)

So, what you have here is a book like no other.

Listening to 5 years of development, and by the way, I would also suggest listening to studio recordings from each year of this quintet because it will help you in understanding how rapid the band’s development occurred and brings a new understanding of how this one tune developed over time. There is so much here to hear!

To order the masterpiece, Cartography, go to… you will not be disappointed!

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