Ron Carter at 85: Songs and Stories from the Life of a Record-Breaking Bassist

bassist Ron Carter

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

Walk into any record store, head to the jazz section, and pull out a random album (or tune into your favorite jazz public radio station) – chances are NEA jazz master Ron Carter appears on whatever recording you end up listening to. Carter is the most-recorded jazz bassist, officially certified by Guinness, and on 2,200+ albums – from his 1960s tunes with Miles Davis to his Grammy-winning album with Jack DeJohnette and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. in 2022 — Carter’s discography reads like a definitive history of jazz. His chameleonic mastery of musical situations combined with his technical skills have made him a first-choice bassist since his arrival on the scene, as well as outside of it. Records with artists like Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon and A Tribe Called Quest further illustrate Carter’s reach.

To celebrate Ron Carter’s 85th birthday, Jazz night decided to do something special: an evening of listening with Ron Carter and our host, Christian McBride. For the occasion, McBride and Ron have hand-picked tracks to discover from his mind-blowing catalog, unmissable stories and a moment in the spotlight for the GOAT of jazz bass. “Like most bass players, we always feel like no one knows we’re there.” Carter said. “We’re really back here doing something.”

Define list:

  • Freedom Jazz Dance (Eddie Harris)
  • Circle (Miles Davis)
  • Solar (Davis)
  • Sun Shower (Kenny Barron)
  • New York Standard Time (Ron Carter)
  • Compared to what (Roberta Flack)
  • Brandenburg Concerto 3 (JS Bach)
  • Loneliness (Eddie DeLange, Duke Ellington, Irving Mills)
  • Credits:

    Writer and Producer: Trevor Smith; Associate Producer: Alex Ariff; Consulting Editor: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Vice President, NPR Music: Keith Jenkins; Executive producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand.

    Special thanks to JoAnne Jiminez, Sascha van Oertzen

    Copyright 2022 WBGO and Jazz at Lincoln Center. To learn more, visit

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