Review: NEA Jazz Master Ron Carter Trio at The Kennedy Center

The Ron Carter Trio visited The Kennedy Center this Friday night. Consisting of bassist Carter, pianist Donald Vega, and guitarist Russell Malone, the harmonics couldn’t have been sweeter; the melodies, more agreeably delightful; or the riffs, more creative of joy.

Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

Led by Jazz Master Carter, the trio began the evening with several in memoriam pieces for musicians who, as Carter described them, “have left the concert.” One of these pieces was Malone’s “Cedar Tree,” a tribute to pianist Cedar Walton.

Another was Carter’s own tribute for Brazilian composer and musician Antonio Carlos Jobim, and memories have never sounded so beautifully syncopated.

Carter’s long fingers slid gracefully up and down the neck of his standup, as he plucked deep satisfaction with each note, clear and full. Jazz’s most accomplished bassist, Carter showed once again his magic.

Vega’s piano work demonstrated just how softly his fingers tiptoe along the keyboard. His solo on Joseph Kosma’s “Autumn Leaves” was splendid.

But, as always, the trio’s syncopation is what distinguishes it: its fluidity and clarity are a marvel, for listening to them is like listening to a well-orchestrated convergence of song-birds. One could spend all evening surrounded by the love.

The trio performed jazz standard “My Funny Valentine” by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart.

They then finished the evening with an incredible rendition of Fletcher Henderson’s “Soft Winds,” where one learns that soft does not necessarily mean gentle, as Vega, Carter, and Malone riffed rapid-fire, yet delicately, to a resounding conclusion.

Running Time: 75 minutes

The Ron Carter Trio performed Friday, October 27, at The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For the full season at the Jazz Club go online.

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Robert Michael Oliver, Ph.D., considers himself a Creativist. He has been involved in education and the performing arts in the Washington area since the 1980s. He, along with his wife, Elizabeth Bruce, and Jill Navarre, co-founded The Sanctuary Theatre in 1983. Since those fierce days in Columbia Heights, he has earned his doctorate in theater and performance studies from the University of Maryland, raised two wonderful children, and seen more theater over the five years he worked as a reviewer than he saw in the previous 30. He now co-directs the Sanctuary's Performing Knowledge Project. He has his first book of poetry, The Dark Diary: in 27 refracted moments, due for publication by Finishing Line Press later this year.

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