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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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BENNY CARTER

Four Classic Albums Plus

Avid AMSC 1048

 

 

CD1
Jazz Giant
1. Old Fashioned Love
2. I'm Coming Virginia
3. A Walkin' Thing
4. Blue Lou
5. Ain't She Sweet
6. How Can You Lose
7. Blues My Naughtie Sweetie Gives To Me
 
Benny Carter - Alto sax, trumpet
Frank Rosolino - Trombone (tracks 1-5, 7)
Ben Webster - Tenor sax (tracks 1-5, 7)
Andr‚ Previn - Piano (tracks 1, 2, 5-7)
Jimmy Rowles - Piano (tracks 3, 4)
Barney Kessel - Guitar
Leroy Vinnegar - Bass
Shelly Manne - Drums
 
Swingin' The `20's
8. Thou Swell
9. My Blue Heaven
10. Just Imagine
11. If I Could Be With You
12. Sweet Lorraine
13. Who's Sorry Now
14. Laugh! Clown! Laugh!
15. All Alone
16. Mary Lou
17. In A Little Spanish Town
18. Someone To Watch Over Me
19. A Monday Date
20. All Alone (Alternative Take)
 
Benny Carter - Alto sax, trumpet
Earl Hines - Piano
Leroy Vinnegar - Bass
Shelly Manne - Drums
 
CD2
Sax Ala Carter
1. And The Angels Sing
2. Everything I Have Is Yours
3. I Understand
4. All Or Nothing At All
5. I'll Never Smile Again
6. If I Loved You
7. Far Away Places
8. I Should Care
9. For All We Know
10. I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance
11. The One I Love
12. Moon Of Manakoora
 
Benny Carter - Alto sax, soprano sax
Jimmy Rowles - Piano
Leroy Vinnegar - Bass
Mel Lewis - Drums
 
Aspects
13. June In January
14. February Fiesta
15. March Wind
16. I'll Remember April
17. One Morning In May
18. June Is Bustin' Out All Over
19. Sleigh Ride In July
20. August Moon
21. September Song
22. Something For October
23. Swingin' In November
24. Roses In December
25. February Fiesta (Alternative Take)
26. August Moon (Alternative Take)

Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9
Benny Carter - Alto sax
Shorty Sherock, Conrad Gozzo, Pete Candoli, Uan Rasey - Trumpets
Tommy Pederson, George Roberts, Herbie Harper - Trombones
Buddy Collette, Bill Green, Justin Gordon, Chuck Gentry - Saxes
Larry Bunker - Vibes, bongoes
Arnold Ross - Piano
Bobby Gibbons - Guitar
Joe Comfort - Bass
Shelly Manne - Drums
Tracks 3, 6, 7, 10-12
Benny Carter - Alto sax
Al Porcino, Stu Williamson, Ray Triscari, Joe Gordon - Trumpets
Frank Rosolino, Tommy Pederson, Russ Brown - Trombones
Buddy Collette, Bill Green, Jewell Grant, Plas Johnson - Saxes
Gerry Wiggins - Piano
Barney Kessel - Guitar
Joe Comfort - Bass
Shelly Manne - Drums
 

 

The four LPs here compiled on two CDs date from 1957 to 1960 and put Benny Carter in four contrasting surroundings. I have already reviewed the Jazz Giant album, which had Carter surrounded by other jazz giants.

The most unusual album is Swingin' the 20s, where Benny was teamed with Earl Hines for their first joint recording session ever. Hines may not appear to be the most natural companion for Carter, since the Earl's heyday dates from before Benny Carter's rise to fame, and their styles may seem like chalk and cheese. Yet they work very well together: two virtuosi seeming to respect the other man's abilities and fitting in with him. The combination of their two different approaches keeps the listener on the edge of his seat. To add to the piquancy, the rhythm team of Leroy Vinnegar and Shelly Manne supplies a modernistic tinge to the proceedings. Again, they may seem odd bedfellows for Earl Hines but Hines has always been a kind of modernist, and their teamwork is exemplary.

The quartet fuses comfortably in a programme consisting mostly of jazz standards, with the notable inclusion of a swinging version of Earl Hines' composition A Monday Date (should that be "My Monday Date"?). Hines sticks resolutely to his two-fisted "orchestral" approach to the piano, which matches remarkably effectively with Benny Carter's smooth alto sax. On three numbers, Carter switches to the trumpet, which conjures up memories of those classic trumpet-and-piano duets by Louis Armstrong with Earl Hines. And they seem to be enjoying themselves particularly for In A Little Spanish Town, with Shelly Manne clicking the castanets.

The second CD opens with Sax Ala Carter, a 1960 album which presented Benny Carter with just a rhythm section, enabling us to hear the master soloing clearly on every track. Benny chose tunes which he hoped would appeal to a wider audience than simply jazz fans, which accounts for the presence of If I Loved You, Far Away Places and Moon of Manakoora. Nevertheless, every number is given a jazz treatment. And The Angel Sings has a shuffle beat, Moon Of Manakoora an exotic rhythm, and If I Loved You a jaunty jazz pulse. Overdubbing allows Benny to duet with himself in Moon Of Manakoora. Each track is performed with Benny's characteristic elegance and solid support from Jimmy Rowles, who contributes several graceful solos.

The final album presented Benny leading a big band - or rather, two different big bands, both composed of West Coast session men. These tracks spotlight Carter's arrangements of tunes representing the twelve months of the year. Benny wrote the compositions for March, August, October and November. His arrangements feature the familiar Carter trademarks: smooth precise saxes and punchy brass. Good soloists include pianist Arnold Ross in I'll Remember April, guitarist Bobby Gibbons in August Moon and Plas Johnson in Something For October. But the predominant soloist is Benny Carter himself, refined throughout. One Morning In May makes a refreshing change by employing a small group from the big band to play in the style of the George Shearing Quintet.

When some of these LPs were first reissued on CD, they contained some bonus tracks which are not present here. But with nearly 160 minutes of music, this compilation is a bargain which proves that Benny Carter could excel whatever company he was in.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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