Benny Carter / Roy Eldridge

The Urbane Jazz of Roy Eldridge

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The American Recording Society was a music subscription service from the mid- to late '50s. The Jazz Entertainment Division of the Society issued several high-quality LPs, usually featuring artists from one of Norman Granz's labels, Clef, Norgan, and Verve. Some but not all of the albums were replications in all or in part of the Granz releases. Generally, not all the cuts that were on the major label showed up on ARS releases. This made for some recordings that were short, but very important nonetheless. This release features the swing-inflected trumpet of Roy Eldridge combined with the always cosmopolitan-sounding alto sax of the venerable Benny Carter. This combination was quite fortuitous becauseEldridge took his main inspiration not from Louis Armstrong, but from saxophonists Carter and Coleman Hawkins, transposing that rapid arpeggio style and rich tone to his horn. This gave the trumpet player a keen awareness of harmony and unparalleled dexterity, especially in his solos. The payoffs from this transformation of style and technique are heard on such cuts as the quick-paced "Polite Blues" and the lovely ballad "I Missed My Heart." This track also features the unmistakable pure tone and sophisticated harmonies of the Carter alto. The two front-line horn players are joined by the respectable rhythm section of Bruce MacDonald, John Simmons, and Alvin Stoller, who carry out their duties as timekeepers and occasional soloists with confidence and poise. A great service to the jazz community would be made if someone managed to gather up all these ARS recordings and reissue them as a commemorative box. In the meantime, scouring second-hand record bins and/or auctions is the only way to find these gems.

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