Jazz bassist played with musical superstars

From a Times Staff Writer

Dave Carpenter, a jazz bassist who worked with scores of legendary names, appeared on more than 200 recordings and was a founding member of the Lounge Art Ensemble, died June 23 of a heart attack at his home in Burbank. He was 48.

Most recently, Carpenter had been playing in a trio with pianist Alan Pasqua and drummer Peter Erskine and had just released an album called “Standards.”

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Carpenter was born Nov. 4, 1959. He first studied the trumpet but switched to the bass at 12.

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.


“Woody’s band was the best, musically, because of the history that was in his repertoire, while Buddy was more like a life education,” Carpenter told The Times some years ago. “I got so much confidence working with him.”

Carpenter moved to Los Angeles in the late 1980s and found work as a studio musician with leading names including Herbie Hancock, Celine Dion, Ringo Starr, Hubert Laws, Michel Legrand and Barry Manilow.

In the mid-1990s, Carpenter joined drummer Erskine and saxophonist Bob Sheppard to form the Santa Monica-based Lounge Art Ensemble and performed frequently in venues around Southern California.

The group took existing jazz standards, put new melodies on top of the chord changes and came up with new titles.


“Dave Carpenter made any piece of music sound and feel better by his incredible musicianship, uncompromising beat and unerring ability to choose the right note at the right time,” Erskine said. “His musical presence will be sorely missed by all who knew and heard him.”

In addition to his jazz and pop music work, Carpenter was interested in classical music and worked as a soloist with the Los Angeles and Berlin philharmonic orchestras.

Survivors include his wife, Valerie, and two brothers.