Benny Carter

Four Classic Albums Plus

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

All four of the classic albums featured in this slipcased, budget-priced box set were available separately on CD. They include: Jazz Giant, Swingin' the 20s, Sax à la Carter, and Aspects. Jazz Giant, an homage to the Kansas City sound, was recorded in two sessions during 1957 and 1958. The players include the leader alternating on alto and trumpet, tenorman Ben Webster, bassist Leroy Vinnegar, either Jimmy Rowles or André Previn on piano, Shelly Manne on drums, Frank Rosolino on trombone, and guitarist Barney Kessel. Second up is the terrific Swingin' the 20s, recorded at the end of 1958. It too featured Vinnegar and Manne. Carter only played alto, but the added attraction was pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines. The front line players wonderfully complement one another in a delightful program of tunes from the period, played in a modern (but not too) style. Sax à la Carter featured Mel Lewis on drums, and brought back Rowles on piano with Vinnegar on bass on a set of standards. The high points here are many, but Sammy Cahn's "I Should Care" and Johnny Mercer's and Ziggy Elman's "And the Angels Sing" top the list. The final disc in the set, Aspects, features Carter conducting his own orchestra. Recorded in 1958, it was released in 1959. It is notable because it was the first and only time between 1947 and 1986 that Carter was the playing leader of a big band. The tunes are all standards whose gimmick is that their titles reflect different months of the year. Given the high degree of musicianship and the strong swing quotient, the corny concept can be overlooked without a second thought. Some of the players on this date include Pete Candoli, Rosolino, Gerald Wiggins, and Plas Johnson. In sum, this is a very solid portrait of "classic" Carter at a creative peak.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:00
2
3:36
3 3:07
4 3:19
5
2:25
6 3:46
7
3:25
8 4:01
9 3:03
10 2:51
11
3:08
12 2:43
13 3:15
14 1:58
15
3:19
16
3:24
17 2:52
18 3:02
19 2:53
20
3:42
21
2:42
22
2:56
23
3:05
24 2:39
25 1:58
26
3:35
blue highlight denotes track pick