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New Jazz Sounds: The Benny Carter Urbane Sessions

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Album Review

The remarkable Benny Carter, who had first recorded 25 years earlier, was not even halfway through with his career when he started making sessions for Verve. This double CD wraps up the complete reissuance of all of his Verve albums. The distinctive and lyrical altoist is backed by strings throughout the first disc (16 songs plus ten alternate takes), but there is nothing sleepy about the music. The string arrangements (half by Joe Glover and half by Carter himself) are tasteful and provide a cushion for Carter's melodic but unpredictable horn; this is far from mere mood music. Most of the second disc matches the ageless altoist with trumpeter Roy Eldridge and a rhythm section. Some heat is generated, and most unusual are four unique numbers on which Eldridge duets with drummer Alvin Stoller (one has Roy overdubbing some basic piano), although Roy mostly follows the chord changes. In addition, there is a leftover alternate take from a Carter session with the Oscar Peterson quartet and two exciting selections in a sextet with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and trombonist Bill Harris. Easily recommended, this is a perfectly conceived series.


Born: August 8, 1907 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

To say that Benny Carter had a remarkable and productive career would be an extreme understatement. As an altoist, arranger, composer, bandleader, and occasional trumpeter, Carter was at the top of his field since at least 1928, and in the late '90s, Carter was as strong an altoist at the age of 90 as he was in 1936 (when he was merely 28). His gradually evolving style did not change much through the decades, but neither did it become at all stale or predictable except in its excellence. Benny Carter...
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New Jazz Sounds: The Benny Carter Urbane Sessions, Benny Carter
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