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Thursday, May 11, 2023

Aspects - Benny Carter


August Moon

Benny Carter and His Orchestra
Arrangements by Benny Carter
Produced by Benny Carter
Recording Engineer: Pete Abbott
Supervised by Bill Loose and Hal Schaffer
Cover Design: Paul Bacon
United Artists Records UAS 5017

Leader and Alto Saxophone - Benny Carter
Trumpets - Shorty Sherlock, Conrad Gozzo, Pete Candoli, Uan Rasey
Trombones - Tommy Pederson, George Roberts, Herbie Harper
Saxophones - Buddy Collette, Bill Green, Justin Gordon, Chuck Gentry
Piano - Arnold Ross
Guitar - Bobby Gibbons
Bass - Joe Comfort
Vibes - Larry Bunker
Drums - Shelly Manne

Leader and Alto Saxophone - Benny Carter
Trumpets - Al Porcino, Stu Williamson, Ray Triscari, Joe Gordon
Trombones - Frank Rosolino, Tommy Pederson, Russ Brown
Saxophones - Buddy Colette, Bill Green - Jewell Grant, Plan Johnson
Piano - Gerry Wiggins
Guitar - Barney Kessel
Bass - Joe Comfort
Drums - Shelly Manne

From the back cover: The jazz scene, while expanding with unprecedented force in recent years, has shrunk in just one respect. The most successful jazz units today are combos rather than big bands. The new ideas, the influential sounds and solo styles come out of quintets and quartets rather than from brass and reed sections. But there are still a number of musicians for whom the big band sound has an ineradicable meaning. These artist would like to see the return of the large jazz-cum-dance orchestra and are eagerly assisting in bringing about its revival.

Though the present jazz generation knows Benny Carter as an alto saxophonist and many have encountered his work, as soloist or composer, in connection with one of other of the films and TV shows that have used his talents during the past decade, it was as the leader of a regular grass-reeds-and-rhythm band that he spent most of his working hours during the 1930s and early '40s.

Benny had the perfect set-up. He could express himself as saxophonist, clarinetist, trumpeter, composer-arranger, through the medium of his own band. First there was the 1933-4 orchestra that brought Teddy Wilson to New York; then in 1937 he fronted a memorable international unit in Holland. Back in the U.S. the following year, he reorganized a big band, His sidemen in the next few yards included Vic Dickenson, Eddie Heywood, Jonah Jones, Tyree Glenn, later Jay Jay Johnson and Mx Roach.

Settling in California in 1943, Benny concentrated more on writing and less on maintaining a steady touring personnel. His last organized band foray involved a trio to New York and a series of recordings in the winter of 1945-6.

The present album marks Benny's first venture since tat time with a big band featuring the old structure of brass, saxes and rhythm. On this occasion, of course, the orchestra was specially assembled in Hollywood for recording purpose only. Instead of having to depend on musicians who were willing to go on the road, benny was able to select the cream of the Hollywood studio jazz musician. It is not surprising that the result are conspicuously superior, with in performance and recording, to earlier ventures in his long and illustrious recording career.

All the arrangements for this album were written by Benny. The writing style has not changed perceptibly in character, though it has broadened in scope and has benefited from the more advanced technical conditions under which it is heard here. The inimitable Carter saxophone section sound, with Benny playing the lead, and with brass punctuations, recalls many of the finest aspect of the swing era style of writing, for which Fletcher Henderson was regarded by many as the prototype, though actually Benny himself was perhaps even more continuously active as an arranger.

June In January introduces an altered personnel. The soloists, in addition to Benny, include Shorty Sherlock, one of the better bandleaders of the 1940s, on trumpet; Herbie Harper on trombone, and Arnold Ross on piano.

February Fiesta, though arrange by Carter, was composed by Hal Schaefer, the gifted pianist and arranger who, like so many jazz notable of today, got his first break playing in Benny's band. The samba rhythm effects are accentuated by the presence of Larry Bunker playing bongos. Solos: Pete Candoli, trumpet; Gibbons on guitar, and Carter.

March Wind, a bright tempoed new work by Benny, offers one of the album's most striking examples of the kind of alto sax improvisation that has made him a universally respected jazz figure for almost three decades. His tone, clear and open, and the immaculate symmetry and infallible swing of his style, marked him as one of the first true individualist of the instrument, rivaled only by Johnny Hodges and a handful of others. In addition to Benny's solo there is a brief fast of Gordon on trumpet.

I'll Remember April, strictly a ballad on its bpubcation in 1943, swings vividly in the Carterized metamorphosis. Benny, Arnold Ross and Buddy Collette are heard from .

One Morning In May features a small combo drawn from the big band. The melodic line achieves a shearing-quintet-like blend.

Sleigh Ride In July opens on a "Jingle Bell" note with Benny playing the sleigh bells. The soloists are Buddy Collette on tenor sax, Barney Kessel on guitar, Frank Rosolino on trombone and Gerry Wiggins, an off-and-on associate of Benny's various bands and combos since the early 1940s, on piano. Benny, of course, is heard on a solo passage, as he is on every track throughout the album.

August Moon, composed  by Benny, is a minor theme again played by a small combo out of the band, with Oriental style fourths to lend an exotic touch to the introduction.

September Song is equipped with amore emphatic beat and rhythm treatment that might be expected. Benny's alto, supported by muted brass, leads the way into an Arnold Ross piano solo, with brass completely the first chorus. Benny's ad lib solo is followed by Bobby Gibbons on guitar. Joe Comfort supples the bass fill that closes this eloquent performance.

Something For October, another Carter original, is based partly on a blues motif with the saxes featured on the first tow 12-bars strains. Carter, Kessel and Rosolino are featured.

Swingin' In November, a carter original, demonstrates his intelligent use of melodic economy. The minor theme with repetitive single-note strains is attractively sketched and affords solo opportunities to the tenor sax of Plas Johnson, the trumpet of Stu Williamson and Rosolino's trombone and Benny's alto.

Roses In December was a popular song of the late 1930s. The soloists are Frank Rosolino on trombone, Benny on alto and Joe Gordon on trumpet.

This album, one can safely predict, will be purchased eagerly by the very musicians who took part in its creation. They known that in an age who too many LPs are mass-produced and have an inevitable Woolworth aura, Carter is Cartier. – Leonard Feather - Author of The Encyclopedia of Jazz

June In January*
February Fiesta*
March Wind**
I'll Remember April*
One Morning In May*
June Is Austin' Out All Over**
Sleigh Ride In Jully**
August Moon*
September Song*
Something For October**
Swingin' In November**
Roses In December**

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