Benny Carter

New York Nights

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To say that Benny Carter is a marvel is to make an obvious understatement. 87 at the time of this live quartet set (which also includes pianist Chris Neville, bassist Steve LaSpina and drummer Sherman Ferguson), Carter could easily pass for 47, playing without any hesitant or faltering moments in a timeless swing style that he largely invented. There are no surprises to the repertoire other than the fact that Carter's perennial set opener "On Green Dolphin Street" (which is to him what "Indiana" was to Louis Armstrong in the 1950s) is programmed sixth. Two of the songs ("Easy Money" and "When Lights are Low") are Carter's, while the other pieces have been performed by him hundreds of times through the years. No matter; Benny Carter comes up with fresh variations during his enthusiastic solos, including a classic statement on "Secret Love." His logical and thoughtful improvisations manage to be unpredictable, except in their consistent excellence. An easily recommended set from an apparently ageless master.

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