Legendary Jazz Bassist Ron Carter Talks About Music, Recording, and Hi-Fi

From left to right: Gideon Schwartz, Ron Carter, and Stephen Mejias in the listening room at Audioarts.

I'm sitting next to Ron Carter in the listening room at Manhattan dealer Audioarts (footnote), trying not to cry. We're listening to "All Blues," the title track from Carter's 1974 CTI release—a meditative rendition of the Miles Davis masterpiece that has been slowed-down and elongated in such a way that it practically pulls tears from eyes as easily as Carter pulls notes. It's hard to believe that anyone other than Carter has ever touched this piece. Right now, it belongs entirely to him. The system through which we listen is doing a fine job of articulating Carter's distinct combination of purpose and passion. To describe his performance as mere magic would be an insult to his craft, yet to focus too heavily on his discipline would be an injustice to his art.

Ron Carter is tall, handsome, and dapper in a tweed suit that seems to glow copper. The man is 80 years old, but if you told me he was 60, I'd bet younger. He speaks softly, but his voice resounds. When he gives you his attention, you feel alive—lit from within—and when he turns away, you crave more.

When the LP ends, I barely manage to articulate my gratitude, my awe.

"Sitting here," I begin, "next to you, Mr. Carter, listening to your music through this system—" Holding back tears, I struggle to find the words. "It's— it's—"

"Otherworldly," Carter says, finding just the right note.

Before we listened to his music, Ron Carter spoke on camera to Audioarts' Gideon Schwartz and me about music, recording, and hi-fi:

Footnote: Audioarts, Inc., 210 5th Avenue, Ste. 301, New York, NY 10010. Web: www.audioarts.co.

jimtavegia's picture

this one is far and away the best so far. I hope you take this concept and run with it and interview more and more players in the music scene as it is very interesting and important to document their thoughts, ideas, and feelings about their playing, but also about the recording arts and playback gear. I would have loved to know what playback gear Mr. Carter is enjoying in his home and what acoustic treatments he did to get the sound he wanted.

Thanks for the effort here.

John Atkinson's picture
jimtavegia wrote:
I would have loved to know what playback gear Mr. Carter is enjoying in his home and what acoustic treatments he did to get the sound he wanted.

Glad you appreciated it Jim. Jana did a great job. And if you click on www.stereophile.com/content/musicians-audiophiles-ron-carter, it takes you to Ken Micallef's interview, where Ron discusses his system.

Happy New Year.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

This is a fabulous, invaluable interview.

tonykaz's picture

did Mr. Carter find an Audiophile System that gave him the same feelings he feels as he live-performs in a musical group?


Is Mr. Carter doing another "polite" interview for the Press ?

I'm hoping that Audioart released the "Bottled" magic for Mr.Carter and that he is now Audioart's Customer.

I would be too.

I've heard an Infinity "IRS" System reproduce the "overwhelming Power" of a Symphony Orchestra performance.

I've heard voice reproduced. (by transducers like the LS3/5a )

But I've never heard a realistic-accurate, spine tingling re-creation of a Live String Quartet from an Electronic Music System. Has anyone ? I have the feeling that when it happens, it will be Front Page for everyone. I'm hopeful but don't expect it to happen in our lifetimes.

So, I'll content myself with some lesser level of goodness until I feel the need to hear "Live", then I'll buy a
"ticket" and take my seat.

Of course "Live" Rock & Roll is easily reproduced by nearly every electronics "bundle" because it's a synthetic that doesn't have a reference, we'll never know "for sure" what it's supposed to sound like. For Rock & Roll we try to make it sound "Good". For "Rock & Roll" we are the "Producer".

Mr. Carter seems a Man of Integrity and Genuine.

Tony in Michigan

Allen Fant's picture

Another +vote for this video- SM.
I, too, am enjoying these videos as well as the articles on Musicians and their personal stereo systems. I want more!

Additionally, I would like to see and read about Stereophile and Staff reaching out (traveling) to various brick-and-mortar dealers/retailers across the U.S.A. A "Dealer's Showcase" segment if you will. Need an extra hand accomplishing this tasker? Oh yeah, I am available.
Happy New Year -

dalethorn's picture

Quite amazing - here's a guy where I have a lot of his music, and he's talking about getting the live sound in the club shaped to be consistent as the acoustics change, the way an audiophile shapes the sound in his room with acoustic treatments or moving the gear around. Then he takes that to the next level and ties together the live experience with the playback experience. Just phenomenal.