Benny Moten

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This name certainly got around in the early days of jazz; budding swingsters can have a nice if somewhat mind-boggling time sorting out who is who when it comes to various players identified as Benny…
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This name certainly got around in the early days of jazz; budding swingsters can have a nice if somewhat mind-boggling time sorting out who is who when it comes to various players identified as Benny Moten and Bennie Moten. The latter spelling of the first name is supposed to be an indication that the legendary Kansas City jazz bandleader is under discussion, but he also shows up as "Benny" in many a credit, perhaps in an attempt to avoid being mistaken for the favored pep pill of hoods in the '50s. The two other players named Bennie Moten have an involvement with classic jazz in common as well as their names, but they are not the same person.

The Benny Moten featured on clarinet and alto saxophone on recordings in the mid-'20s seems to have had a less extensive career than the bassist Clarence Lamont "Benny" Moten. The reed player's main association was with bandleader and pianist Clarence Williams, but that seems to be enough if the goal is to amass a discography large enough to require transport by sled. Williams seems to have practically lived in recording studios, a lifestyle that at least could be considered novel in the '20s. Reedman Moten was a member of at least three of Williams' bands: the Clarence Williams Blue Five, the Clarence Williams Washboard Five (also known as the Clarence Williams Washboard Band), and ruling over all, the Clarence Williams Jazz Kings. Moten was frequently paired with fellow clarinetist Ben Whitted.