No longer being in New York has disadvantages–not being able to attend a concert of Benny Carter’s music, for instance. Carter died in 2003. He would be 100 years old now. The concert over the weekend was the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra’s season opener. Ben Ratliff’s account in The New York Times makes me sorry to have missed it.
If there was a star, it was a whole bloc within a band: the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s saxophone section, playing the tightly harmonized passages that were among Carter’s signatures.
Carter’s arrangement of “All of Me,” from 1940, is a good example. After an introduction, it began with the four saxophonists playing two choruses of harmonized lockstep, running a rewritten version of the melody through the chords, and it had everything an individual solo can have: melodic shape, hesitation, easy swing, double-timing, open space.
To read all of Ratliff’s review, go here. Links to some of Carter’s best recordings are in this Rifftides piece.