Billy Eckstine Sings with Benny Carter

Benny Carter / Billy Eckstine

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Billy Eckstine Sings with Benny Carter Review

by Scott Yanow

Billy Eckstine's final recording (although he would live until 1993) finds the 72-year old singer showing his age. Mr. B's famous baritone voice at this late date only hints at his earlier greatness although his phrasing and enthusiasm uplift what could have been a depressing affair. Ironically altoist Benny Carter (who was 79) still sounds in his prime on alto and he takes an effective trumpet solo on "September Song." Singer Helen Merrill opens and closes the set by interacting vocally with Eckstine on "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" and "Didn't We." Eckstine, backed by a trio headed by his longtime pianist Bobby Tucker, does his best on such songs as "My Funny Valentine," "Memories of You" and "Autumn Leaves" but his earlier recordings are the ones to get.

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