Benny Carter

Tickle Toe

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This obscure recording from 1964 finds Benny Carter leading a big band, playing Lalo Schifrin arrangements on one session, then his own with slightly different personnel on the other, both featuring a ten-piece sax section backing the leader, including a pair of sopranos, which aren't often heard in big-band charts. The Schifrin charts feature Carter on alto sax and tenor saxophonist Babe Russin as the main soloists, with pianist Gerald Wiggins occasionally taking a chorus. Schifrin's arrangements all have a decidedly Latin beat, with the addition of percussionists Emil Richards and Fred Aguirre giving a swing tune like "Tickle Toe" a different sound, though Cab Calloway's "The Big Lie" omits them. Carter's charts have better stood the test of time, including the alto saxophonist's bluesy setting of "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," a long forgotten George Shearing composition ("Fairy Tales"), and a dreamy "Memories of You." One disappointment is that the length of this CD is miserly (even by LP standards) at under 28 minutes. These studio dates remained unreleased until the late '90s, and while these performances are not among Benny Carter's most memorable recordings, they will be of interest to his fans.

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