Last week, jazz lost a gentleman and journeyman artist valued for his dependability, versatility and swing. One of the west coast's finest session bassists, Dave Carpenter died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 48.
After studying music at Ohio State University, he launched his professional career playing with three giants of jazz: Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson and Woody Herman. Most recently, Carpenter had been in drummer Peter Erskine's trio, which also included pianist Alan Pasqua. A veteran of the Woody Herman and Bill Holman big bands, he also worked with Bill Perkins, Jack Nimitz, Herb Geller, Herbie Hancock, Jack Sheldon, Al Jarreau, Bill Cunliffe, Jan Lundgren, Terry Gibbs, Buddy DeFranco and Richard Stoltzman, to name a few.
In as great demand in Los Angeles studios as he was in clubs, Carpenter has a list of recording credits as long as both of your arms. He performed on over two hundred recordings, and had dozens of television, film theme and soundtracks to his recording credit.
Soundtracks like on the films Sideways, Ocean's Eleven, When Do We Eat?, Charlie Bartlett, 50 First Dates, Wild Things 2, Hotel, Casualties and Tom Hanks' That Thing You Do! as well as the Original Broadway Cast recording of Cabaret.
Carpenter is no stranger to the recording studio, a first call bassist on hundreds of albums. He also worked as assistant sound engineer on several albums as well. He appeared as a soloist with the Los Angeles and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras plus Tanglewood and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras. Carpenter was a founding member of the "Lounge Art Ensemble" along with Bob Sheppard and Peter Erskine.
New York Times Review: Lenox, MA (2006) the Classical and the Vernacular, were a cohesive choice at the Festival of Contemporary Music, Tanglewood Music Center's annual showcase. Maestro Asbury was on the podium for Turnage's festival-closing, "Blood on the Floor," which mixed into the large, percussion-heavy orchestra was a jazz band that included Martin Robertson, the saxophonist; John Parricelli, the guitarist; Dave Carpenter, the bassist and Peter Erskine, the drummer.
In the best jazz tradition, these musicians all took solos, sometimes augmented by orchestral brass and percussionists. The music's roots ran everywhere, from the Copland of "Quiet City" to Frank Zappa's off-kilter zaniness. By turns rambunctious and soulful, this nine-movement suite is raucous and heartfelt. It was far and away the wildest piece of music heard here this week, leaving a listener with the sense that it should have been the festival's starting point, not its final word.
Tuesday June 24th, 2008
The news of Carpenter's passing traveled quickly through Hollywood, with shock, having just ended a three day recording session with Simon Phillips (drummer, producer) and Peter Erskine Monday, the day before his death.
Michael Stephans: Carp was one of those rare guys who could fit perfectly into any musical situation, whether it was in the studio or in a club. He always found a way to make the music his own. The last time I played with him was on a trio gig with the great guitarist Ron Anthony, which would never would've been as musical as it was without his presence. It was clear that Carp loved to play, and his spirit was contagious. I feel fortunate to have played with him and will miss his contributions to the music.
John Beasley: I was close to Dave, played and traveled with him on everything from hardcore jazz to jingles to ambient funk. Dave was one of the smartest men I've ever known. He had a seductive argument, a razor wit and a knack for turning the most bizarre conspiracy theory into plain vanilla fact! Musically, he made us all sound better. He was the "Magic Johnson" of music. Any music. I loved him, and will dearly miss him. Thanks for writing about our friend.
Harvey Mason: Dave recorded with me on two of my most memorable projects, Trios 1 & 2. He was my favorite acoustic bassist in L.A. and traveled with me on several occasions. He will be sorely missed as he was truly a musical giant. He was also extremely intelligent, well read and could converse on any subject. I really enjoyed our political discussions. He was also fond of art which he often shared with me as we traveled. I can't believe he left so earlymay he rest in peace.
Denise Donatelli: Dave was my first call bassist... as a matter of fact, I was just about to call him with some dates when I received the dreaded call about his death. I'm a jazz vocalist in the L.A. area. Dave was a solid bassist who could play everything magnificently. He was a supportive, kind, gentle and beautiful man and the jazz community has suffered a major loss.
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