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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove


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BENNY CARTER/ THE AMERICAN JAZZ ORCHESTRA

Central City Sketches

Nimbus NI 2716

 

 

 

1. Doozy
2. When Lights are Low
3. A Kiss from You
4. Sleep
Central City Sketches
5. Central City Blues
6. Hello
7. People
8. Promenade
9. Remember
10. Sky Dance
 
11. Lonesome Nights
12. Doozy
13. Easy Money
14. Symphony in Riffs
15. Souvenir
16. Blues in My Heart

 
All compositions except track 4 and all orchestrations by Benny Carter. 
Benny Carter – Conductor, arranger, alto sax, trumpet
John Eckert, Virgil Jones, Bob Millikan – Trumpet
Eddie Bert, Jack Jeffers, Jimmy Knepper, Britt Woodman – Trombone
Bill Easley, John Purcell – Alto sax
Loren Schoenberg, Lew Tabackin – Tenor sax
Danny Banks – Baritone sax
John Lewis, Dick Katz – Piano
Remo Palmier - Guitar
Ron Carter – Bass
Mel Lewis – Drums 
First released in 1987, this release 2009
 

This recording goes a long way toward explaining the very high regard his contemporaries over many decades in jazz had for Benny Carter. Although easily identifiable to those who know his work, Benny’s jazz style adapted greatly to the piece he was playing at the time. His arrangements were even more diverse in style and it would not be possible to say on listening to a particular piece, “that was a Johnny Hodges arrangement”. That said, each is the work of an inspired musical genius. It says in the sleeve notes that the musicians involved commented that the arrangements played themselves. There can be no greater compliment to an arranger than that, and I certainly found them much more enjoyable to listen to, than the work of some contemporary arrangers who go in for finger-breaking "soli" passages, with trumpets and bones playing in the stratosphere. 

The musicians are of course from the top drawer of jazz and session work and they had the benefit of being together for a week, before the recording and their subsequent concerts took place. The ensemble work is clean and precise and the solos well up to the expected standard for such an august group. 

These charts would be fine for the BBC Big Band’s Monday night show on Radio 2. Let’s hope they have not been lost and the enterprising producer of that show reads this review. It would make for a couple of great programmes that the BBC Band could surely handle with style. 

Congratulations to the Nimbus label for a timely reminder of a great session from 22 years ago: it could have been recorded yesterday! 

Don Mather

 

see also review by Jonathan Woolf

 

 



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