Volume six in the Masters of Jazz series dedicated to the early works of Benny Carter contains 22 recordings made in London and Copenhagen between April and August 1936. Tracks one through fourteen feature the Benny Carter Orchestra; fifteen through eighteen are more intimate performances by Carter's Swing Quartet, with pianist Gene Rodgers, guitarist Bernard Addison, string bassist Wally Morris and drummer George Elrick. Elisabeth Welch sang with both groups; she may be heard on tracks thirteen through fifteen (two takes of "I Gotta Go" and the quartet version of "When Lights Are Low"). During the last week of August 1936 Benny Carter made records in Denmark with an orchestra led by alto saxophonist Kai Ewans. This compilation may serve as an object lesson in Carter's amazing multi-instrumental abilities. In addition to his customary alto sax he plays trumpet on "Swingin' the Blues," clarinet on "Just a Mood," tenor sax on "Scandal in A Flat," and uses his pleasant singing voice on the "Memphis Blues" and the Danish realization of "When Lights Are Low." Eight alternate takes are sure to delight those who wish to study Carter's music in depth. Those who'd rather avoid hearing so many songs played twice should consult collections that are easier to navigate, for example Classics (541), which contains most of the master takes from these sessions.
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