Remembering Jazz’s Greatest Year With the Living Legends of 1959 (via Billboard)

Ron Carter, the most-recorded jazz ­bassist of all time, never planned to play jazz music. But by the time the Rochester, N.Y., native ­graduated from the prestigious Eastman School of Music, in June 1959, his dream of ­becoming a ­classical cellist had been dashed. His skin, ­orchestra directors let him understand, was simply the wrong color. “Twice I was discouraged,” says Carter, 79, one recent afternoon in his sunny, art-filled Upper West Side Manhattan ­apartment. “I was informed that the classical world wasn’t prepared to have anyone who didn’t look like Beethoven or Haydn play their music.” (Judging from the Glenn Gould CD case resting on his stereo, Carter’s love of ­classical abides.) With a wife and young son to feed, Carter traded the cello for the double bass, and Beethoven and Haydn for Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. He had been gigging around town on weekends to pay for school, but Rochester was no place for a 22-year-old jazz musician with any ­ambition. New York was the only city that ­mattered. “Was then, is now,” he says.

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