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Benny Carter


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Bennett Lester Carter (August 8, 1907 – July 12, 2003) was an American jazz alto saxophonist, trumpeter, composer, arranger, and bandleader. He was a major figure in jazz from the 1930s to the 1990s, and was recognised as such by other jazz musicians who called him King.

As a youth, Carter lived in Harlem around the corner from Bubber Miley who was Duke Ellington’s star trumpeter. Carter was inspired by Miley and bought a trumpet, but when he found he couldn’t play like Miley he traded the trumpet in for a saxophone.

Carter began playing professionally at 15. He first recorded in 1928 and formed his first big band the following year. He played with Fletcher Henderson in 1930 and 1931, then briefly led McKinney’s Cotton Pickers before returning to lead his own band in 1932. The few recordings his band made between 1933 and 1934 are considered by most jazz scholars to be milestones in early swing arranging. They were sophisticated and very complex arrangements, and a number of them became swing standards which were performed by other bands (“Blue Lou” is a great example of this.) He also arranged for Henderson and Duke Ellington during these years and wrote two hits, “Blues in My Heart” and “When Lights are Low.” By the early 1930s he and Johnny Hodges were considered the leading alto players of the day. Carter also quickly became a leading trumpet soloist, having rediscovered the instrument. He recorded extensively on trumpet in the 1930s.


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  • Marxism1

    Oh so lovely. <3

    18 Nov 2014 Reply
  • Parisblues

    "I'm coming viriginia" recorded in Paris 7th March 1938 : Django Reinhardt (g).

    22 Feb 2013 Reply
  • Gnessie


    15 Dec 2009 Reply
  • LarrySlezak

    Jazz Lovers:

    19 Jun 2009 Reply
  • LondonLouis

    A correction: try McKinney's Cotton Pickers - there's a certain amount of music under than spelling.

    5 May 2009 Reply
  • LondonLouis

    Benny was one of the great Big Band composers. Check out the work he did for Spike Hughes, the British arranger in the early 1930s. does not have any tracks from the McKinney Cotton-Pickers, with which Benny had a brief spell. You also need to check out the work he did for Fletcher Henderson. From memory, I believe he cut his arranging teeth in that band.

    5 May 2009 Reply
  • zrsullivan

    Barney Kessel, I believe.

    13 Oct 2008 Reply
  • strangerina

    Anybody know who the guitarist is on "I'm Coming Virginia" or "A Walkin' Thing"?

    6 Oct 2008 Reply
  • SirAlecHendrix

    Benny Carter—now connected to the brandnew group ➤ Round Midnight

    25 Sep 2008 Reply
  • SYL2Oh

    Improvisateur and arranger Benny Carter is the creator of elegant music that has enriched the discourse of major swing orchestras and powerfully influence the modernists of the postwar period. His humanism is reflected faithfully in his work, began in 1930 !

    15 May 2008 Reply
  • rotten-piggy

    brilliant, genious

    5 Sep 2007 Reply

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