Benny Carter

Jazz Off the Air, Vol. 3

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Benny Carter's mid-'40s big band is relatively forgotten today because it only made a few studio recordings but, on evidence of the broadcasts heard on this LP, it was a rather significant transition orchestra between swing and bop. Consider that these airchecks, in addition to solos by Carter on alto and trumpet, feature concise statements from such young modernists as trombonists J.J. Johnson and Al Grey, trumpeter Miles Davis and the tenors of Dexter Gordon and Lucky Thompson. In addition, there are guest appearances by pianist Mary Lou Williams, clarinetist Barney Bigard and cornetist Rex Stewart. The recording quality is sometimes just so-so, but obviously the importance of this frequently exciting music overrides other factors.