By: Jason Landry
Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes is a two-hour documentary first appearing on PBS Television in 2022 that captures the life of the most recorded bass player in history. He has appeared on over 2,000 recordings. Don’t just take my word for it, ask the Guinness Book of World Records.
And when they talk about bass players in the world of jazz music, he’s inspired them all. On the bandstand you couldn’t miss him. He stands tall next to his large, upright double bass. Renowned bandleader Herbie Hancock said of Carter, “He was always working towards perfection.” And Herbie should know, as they both played side by side in the Miles Davis Quintet for many years. Besides, Ron Carter has appeared on many of Herbie’s albums including the popular Empyrean Isles.
Classically trained as a Cellist at the Eastman School of Music, he “never felt the vibe in a normally white environment”, even when he was First Chair in the orchestra. It wasn’t until he was turned down to join an orchestra in Texas due to his race, that he decided to focus solely on jazz. As he proudly states, “I played Carnegie Hall as a colored boy. I can live with that.” And it doesn’t hurt that he’s earned three Grammy Awards, the most recent coming in 2022 at age of 85.
From Miles Davis to Aretha Franklin, from Billy Joel to even A Tribe Called Quest—he’s played with so many artists it is hard to keep track. This documentary is an in-depth story about the Maestro known to many as Mr. Carter and told through stories and interviews with his family, friends and musical colleagues, and includes concert footage from various clubs and events from all around the world.
“My favorite thing is trying to find the right notes to get to a different level.”