Benny CARTER – Swingin' The '20s 1958

Benny CARTER – Swingin’ The ’20s 1958
1988 Issues

Combining altoist Benny Carter with pianist Earl Hines in a quartet is an idea with plenty of potential, but the results of this 1958 session are relaxed rather than explosive. Carter and Hines explore a dozen tunes (standards as well as forgotten songs like “All Alone” and “Mary Lou”) with respect and light swing, but one wishes that there were a bit more competitiveness to replace some of the mutual respect. [Originally released in 1958, Swingin’ the Twenties was digitally remastered on CD in 1988 and includes bonus tracks.]
By Scott Yanow. AMG.
Benny Carter was more than a musician.Benny was a monument.A landmark in the history of Art during the 20th century.One of the most precious treasures the world had.But now,he’s gone.Death took him on Saturday night,July 12,2003;a few weeks later,he would have celebrated his 96th birthday.Just like Compay Segundo,who died the same night at the same age.
Born Lester Bennett Carter,in New York City,August 8,1907,this man happened to become one of the major jazz artists of all times.He played,with the same talent,alto saxophone,clarinet,trumpet,and piano.But he wasn’t only an intrumentist: he also became one of the top writers and arrangers of jazz.He knew and played with everybody: Earl Hines,James P.Johnson,Duke Ellington,Chick Webb,Don Redman,Fletcher Henderson,Teddy Hill,Benny Goodman,Django Reinhardt,Coleman Hawkins,Ben Webster,Barney Bigard,Bill Coleman,Dizzy Gillespie,Max Roach,Don Byas,Dexter Gordon,JJ Johnson,Shorty Rogers,Charlie Rouse,Herb Geller,Clark Terry,Quincy Jones,etc, and wrote masterful pieces for the Count Basie band(“Kansas City suite”,1960,and “The legend”,1961).
Today,he would be called a star;but he was just a simple man,very gentle,handsome and humorous.I had the privilege to meet him in Paris,in 1990 or 1991 (if I remember well);he was playing with a band including Jay McShann (also 96 and still alive),Sahib Shihab,Clark Terry,Mel Lewis,and Jimmy Woode,who introduced me to these guys.I’ll always remember this night.I had to drive Jimmy from the airport to the concert hall,then from the hall to the restaurant,then to his hotel;I had a small car at this time,and Jimmy wasn’t too big,but his bass was !
Tonight,I chose this record as a tribute to Benny’s music;maybe because to me,here is one of his finest.Completely devoted to the music of the 20’s,Benny plays alto sax and trumpet,with one of the most wonderful rhythm section you can dream of.But can I really say “rhythm section” when the guy who plays piano is Earl Hines (1904-1983) ? No.I’d rather have to write about two of the most fantastic soloists of all times,Carter and Hines,backed by an extraordinary rhythmic support made of Leroy Vinnegar on bass and theexceptionnal Shelly Manne on drums.Recorded November 2,1958,the music in this album seems as young as it was,fourty five years ago.Manne and Vinnegar do some of the finest support that ever was;Hines,of course,was at this time,and since the mid-twenties,the craziest piano player in the history of jazz;he even amazes me more than Monk or Tatum.Here is the most impressive piano player of all times,and gee,he really swings like noone ever did.
Benny’s alto is one of the three greatest ones,with Johnny Hodges and Charlie Parker.Benny’s trumpet playing is marvelous,and it’s a pity he never recorded more on this instrument,because he really was one of the most original blower;sometimes,he reminds me of another Master,Doc Cheatham (1905-1997).How joyful it is to hear Benny performing James P.Johnson’s “if I could be with you”(definitly one of the most beautiful melodies ever written),Hines'”Monday date”,Gershwin’s “someone to watch over me”,and old standards like “thou swell”,”my blue heaven”,”who’s sorry now”,”all alone” or the gigantic “sweet Lorraine”(what a sublime melody too!).
When I heard about Benny Carter’s death on Sunday,that was the first record I played.Here is a highlight from the Contemporary catalog,and a highlight in Benny’s immense recorded works.The presence of Earl Hines (listen to him on “sweet Lorraine”) makes a monument of this masterpiece,and it’s a very very rare opportunity to listen to him as a sideman.Here is a record I’ll treasure forever.
During the roaring twenties,Benny was already a professionnal musician;his career lasted for some 82 years!!! If you don’t know his music,and you’re a jazz addict,please don’t miss him,it would be as dramatic as missing Trane,Duke,Monk,Lester,Billie or Louis.
Bye bye Benny,and thanks a million.
By Jean-Marie Juif.
Benny Carter- (Alto Sax, Trumpet);
Earl Hines- (Piano);
Leroy Vinnegar- (Bass);
Shelly Manne- (Drums).
01. Thou Swell 2:49
02. My Blue Heaven 3:18
03. Just Imagine 2:32
04. If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight) 2:40
05. Sweet Lorraine 5:00
06. Who’s Sorry Now 2:23
07. Who’s Sorry Now (Alternate Take) 2:24
08. Laugh! Clown! Laugh! 3:20
09. Laugh! Clown! Laugh! (Alternate Take) 2:51
10. All Alone 3:12
11. All Alone (Alternate Take) 3:10
12. Mary Lou 3:06
13. In A Little Spanish Town 2:44
14. Someone To Watch Over Me 2:37
15. A Monday Date 3:09

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