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REVIEW: Ron Carter’s Golden Striker Trio at the Bayerischer Hof in Munich

Ron Carter
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski
 Ron Carter’s Golden Striker Trio 
(Bayerischer Hof, Munich. 4 July 2018. Review by Ralf Dombrowski (*))

There are two things – Ron Carter says onstage in the Bayerischer Hof – that he is always asked in interviews. Firstly, what it was like playing with Miles Davis, and secondly, what the things are that still keep him going in music. And then he points to Russell Malone and says, “He’s one of them!” The guitarist from Georgia does indeed have a highly individual style, the way he brings shape to phrasing means that he is the kind of player you would always want to bring off the bench.

Russell Malone
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Malone plays his D’Angelico guitar almost without reverb and effects, and that gives the semi-acoustic instrument a dry, percussive character, somehow not dissimilar to the sound of gypsy guitars, but with a bluesy jazz feel. And through the way he plucks, he can develop a warmth and a density of sound that runs through pieces like his tribute to Jim Hall, and which brings his playing real subtlety and dignity.

All in all, the Golden Striker Trio, which consists of the very distinguished Ron Carter, Malone and pianist Donald Vega, develops a magical atmosphere of intimate music-making throughout the evening. For the listener, the door is opened into a private jazz room, where they are presented with mementos of fellow musicians of Carter’s who have either passed on recently, or slightly longer ago – Cedar Walton, Antonio Carlos Jobim or Jim Hall – and there are also timeless swing standards, like Love For Sale or My Funny Valentine. Time and again Carter reminds us that this is like a concert in one’s living room, and how much he enjoys that.

Donald Vega
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

As one of the busiest bassists in jazz over the decades, he no longer has anything to prove, but can simply enjoy leading the musical conversation with his two partners, his tone strong, and with complete elegance in the way he manages lines. He expresses that tastefully modern sense through details of phrasing or musical quotes which fit the context rather than over-obvious effects. And that’s what’s really special: he is an absolute past master in jazz, and when he reaches for his instrument, he brings the music to the stage with a gentleman’s knowing smile.

The Golden Stryker Trio
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski
(*) Ralf Dombrowski’s original German review appeared in the Süddeutsche Zeitung

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