Benny Carter


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Volume ten in the complete chronological recordings of Benny Carter, as compiled and presented on compact disc in 2006 by the Classics label, contains most of the originally issued master takes from his Verve and Victor sessions which transpired in New York and Los Angeles during the period between July 26, 1952 and January 4, 1954. What didn't make it onto this disc was a chunk of the Carter discography dating from August and October 1952, including the material released as the Alone Together album by "Benny Carter with the Oscar Peterson Trio and Buddy Rich" and a couple of tunes by Benny Carter's Orchestra with vocals by Savannah Churchill. Tracks one-three are performed by a solid little octet, while tracks four and six exhibit all the traits of polished early-'50s studio production, laying it on thickly using a large studio orchestra glazed with strings, a harp, and neatly harmonized group vocals. Even so, Carter sounds marvelous out in front with his creamy alto sax. Tracks five, seven, and eight are even better examples of Benny Carter's early-'50s sound. Tracks nine-twelve, played by Carter and a quartet led by pianist Oscar Peterson, were issued on a 10" long-playing Verve record with the word "Cosmopolite" on the cover. The remaining selections on this disc feature the Benny Carter Quartet augmented by a string and wind ensemble arranged and conducted by Joe Glover. At no point during this portion of his career did Carter sound like he was selling out or succumbing to convention. True, the addition of strings, beefed up orchestral charts, and especially the oozy vocals on "I Wanna Go Home" signal a momentary concession to perceived notions of popular taste, but in the larger scheme of things, and especially when placed into context as a relatively brief chapter in the remarkably long life and career of Benny Carter, this is pleasant enough stuff and it's precisely what Carter thought he needed to do during the early 1950s.

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