A Benny Carter Story

The Los Angeles drummer and leader Dick McGarvin responded to Benny and Miles with this communique:

When Lights Are Low Priced
In the early 1990s, I decided I wanted to do WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW with my group. However, all my music books had the one with the Miles Davis bridge. And I didn’t have a recording of the correct version so I could take it down off the record.
Then I remembered – Benny lives in LA. Why not go to the source? I got out my Local 47 directory and called the number – kind of expecting to reach an office or a business manager. But, it was Benny who picked up the phone. I identified myself, told him why I was calling. He was very gracious…and grateful that I wanted to do his tune correctly and said he’d be happy to send me a leadsheet.
I figured there’d be some kind of charge for it. At the very least, I wanted to reimburse him for the postage. So I asked him how much it would be. And Benny said, “Fifteen hundred dollars!” There was a moment of silence and, realizing he was kidding, I said, “Would you take a check?”
We laughed – and he said there would be no charge…on one condition. And I said, “What’s that?” He said, “I’ll send it to you ONLY if you let me send you some of my other songs, as well.” And I thought – yeah, I can handle that.
Some days later, a packet arrived containing WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW and half a dozen other Benny Carter originals.
God Bless him.

No one who knew Benny will be surprised by his generosity or his humor.

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