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RealTracks Artist Bio: Ron Carter

Jazz bass legend Ron Carter is universally admired as one of the most creative and prolific artists ever to play the upright bass. In a distinguished career spanning more than five decades, he has performed with every top jazz artist of his time, appeared on more than 2,500 recordings, and received awards and honors including the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Fellowship, the Hutchinson Award from the Eastman School at the University of Rochester, honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music, The Manhattan School of Music, and The New England Conservatory of Music, France's premier cultural award - the Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, plus two Grammy awards. He has been voted Downbeat magazine's "Jazz Bassist of the Year," the "Most Valuable Player - Acoustic Bass" by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and "Outstanding Bassist of the Decade" by the Detroit News.

Originally a classical cellist, Carter switched to the double bass for the greater opportunities available to him. He won a scholarship to the Eastman School of Music on double bass and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in music. He then moved to New York to earn his Master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music, and it was during this time that he began playing jazz with Jaki Byard and Chico Hamilton. He also made his first recordings with Don Ellis and Eric Dolphy, including tracks where he played jazz cello. He also worked with Randy Weston, Thelonious Monk, Bobby Timmons, Cannonball Adderley and Art Farmer before joining Miles Davis in his second great quintet with Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, and Herbie Hancock. This legendary group toured the world and recorded for five years, from 1963 to 1968, when Carter decided to return to New York as a freelance musician, band leader, and teacher. Since then he has compiled his amazing body of work in performance and in the studio, while also writing chamber and orchestral works, film and television soundtracks, and even making some hip hop recordings. A tireless innovator, he invented the piccolo bass, and has scored works featuring jazz cello. As a performer, he remains as active as ever.

As a dedicated educator, Ron Carter has travelled widely giving clinics and master classes at universities and music schools. He was Artistic Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Studies, taught on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, and retired as Distinguished Professor Emeritus after twenty years at The City College of New York. He then joined the Juilliard School to teach bass in their Jazz Studies program.

Carter is the author of several method books on jazz bass technique and classical bass studies, and his authorized biography, Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes, by Dan Ouellette was published by ArtistShare in 2008. There is a wealth of information on the official Ron Carter web site at

Ron Carter plays these RealTracks:

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