On Benny Carter's 110th birthday--remember that he was a trumpet great

by David Tenner

August 8 is the 110th anniversary of Benny Carter's birth. His achievements as alto saxophonist, composer, arranger, bandleader, etc. have often been celebrated, but his stature as a trumpet player, while not totally ignored, has not in my opinion been sufficiently emphasized. He actually started out as a trumpet (or, to be more precise, cornet) player and only took up the saxophone after heating Frank Trumbauer's solo in "I Never Miss the Sunshine." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Jj5HLUyd3g From his twenties into his eighties (!) he played enough excellent trumpet solos to earn a place in jazz history even if he had never played any other instrument. I'll just list some of them here:

(1) 1936--with Willie Lewis, "Stardust" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRCpexmEuyg

(2) 1937--with The Ramblers, "I'll Never Give In" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYU6AUSFDl8 Carter also plays some nice tenor sax here...

(3) 1937--"My Buddy"--also featuring Carter on alto and of course great Coleman Hawkins on tenor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKnKTej6pGQ

(4) 1939--with Jerry Kruger, "Summertime" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9JctRqcDso Brian Rust to the contrary notwithstanding, it's Carter (not Buck Clayton) on trumpet and Ernie Powell (not Lester Young) on tenor sax. Carter remarked, though, that it was a compliment to have been mistaken for Clayton...

(5) 1939--"More Than You Know" (Roy Felton, vocal) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW564WjEeLc

(6) 1940 (May 5)--with The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street, "Stardust" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELWJbFBc7J4 (starting at 7:20)

(7) 1943--with Fats Waller (soundtrack to "Stormy Weather")--"Moppin' and Boppin'" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmcafP9wU48

(8) 1943 (March 24)--"Fish Fry" from the "Blueberry Hill" radio show http://picosong.com/vxWS

(9) 1944--"I Surrender, Dear" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EruanJPL85w

(10) 1945--"Body and Soul" (from a "Lamplighter" broadcast--Barney Bigard and Joe Sullivan are also playing) http://picosong.com/vtke

(11) 1957--"I'm Coming Virginia" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4P4u1wgmw0 One of my favoritte non-Bix trumpet solos on this song. And Ben Webster as a bonus...

(12) 1958--"If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight" with Earl Hines https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU_JMsuBZYk

(13) 1959--with Helen Humes, "Bill Bailey" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiyACJ0WTA0

(14) 1977--"Confessin' That I Love You" from a tribute to Louis Armstrong https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5d651M5rno Carter's solo starts at 2:10. (Cat Anderson solos on "Sleepytime Down South" and Joe Newman on "When You're Smiling." Newman also does a great Armstrong vocal impression.

(15) 1988--"Time for the Blues" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4meJ4rECcQ4 He's 81 here--it would be the equivalent of Bix playing magnificently in 1984...

Posted on Aug 8, 2017, 12:14 AM

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