Benny Carter

Sax ala Carter!

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Sax ala Carter! was originally released in 1960, and as the liner notes point out, was meant for a general audience. That means that the songs are popular standards and the renditions offered here are fairly short (none reach the four-minute mark). Having said all this, one might expect Sax ala Carter! to resemble cocktail jazz, but it doesn't. Instead, the listener is treated to an intimate set made up of fine ensemble work by Carter, pianist Jimmy Rowles, bassist Leroy Vinnegar, and drummer Mel Lewis on favorites like "Far Away Places," "I Should Care," and "Everything I Have Is Yours." The solos by Carter and Rowles are compact, with both players sticking close to the melody line. Nonetheless, their solos are tastefully energetic and achieve an air of grace. Standouts include a bouncy take on "All or Nothing at All" and a soulful version of "I'll Never Smile Again." The walking bass of Vinnegar also adds buoyancy to the performances on Sax ala Carter!, guaranteeing that the music is always flowing freely. The 2004 release of the album adds three bonus cuts, "Ennui" and two takes of "Friendly Islands." Incredibly, this entire album was recorded in one day on February 5, 1960. A fun treat.

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