Bass Walk of the Week: Ron Carter on Chet Baker's "Autumn Leaves"

In our Walk of the Week series, Jake Hawrylak explores licks, tips, and tricks from masters of jazz bass like Paul Chambers, Ray Brown, and Steve Swallow. Today, Jake takes on another low-end titan, Ron Carter. Through decades of playing with artists like Eric Dolphy, McCoy Tyner, and Miles Davis, as well as leading his own bands and composing within jazz and classical idioms, Carter is one the world's most accomplished bassists.

In the video above, Jake takes us through Ron Carter's bassline from Chet Baker's version of the jazz standard "Autumn Leaves." While many, many versions of this song are played in G minor, this rendition is in the key F minor.

As Jake says, "This is a really cool, really easy bassline, with some snaky chromatic lines here and there and a nice triplet lick we're going to look at." The first measure is over a Bb minor 7th chord, starting on the G string and walking down to the next chord, the Eb 7th—a familiar ii-V pattern common to jazz. Here, that triplet lick appears, which you pull off and rake the notes to create a kind of stuttering effect.

The dynamic bassline continues, propelling through the changes with a kind of percolating quickness. While "Autumn Leaves" has often been approached as a ballad, Carter's bassline helps bring plenty of movement and forward momentum to Chet Baker's up-tempo take.

Be sure to watch the full video above, and check back next Wednesday for the next installment of our Walk of the Week series.

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