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Benny Carter: American Genius Part 1 of 3

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Date: 
Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 6:00pm

Benny Carter should be considered among the greatest jazz alto saxists of the swing era alongside Johnny Hodges. More than merely a giant of jazz saxophone, Benny Carter was a composer and arranger, skilled clarinetist and gifted trumpet player, and an exceptionally versatile, talented musician active for more than three quarters of a century.

As a saxist his significance was teaching the alto saxophone to sing. His signature sound was smooth, flowing and graceful -- displaying ease, confidence and a clear sense of direction when soloing. It’s my impression that alto sax can be a very difficult instrument on which to develop a rich, pleasing tone, but Carter succeeded brilliantly. He had impeccable phrasing giving each note full value, even in rapid arpeggios and runs, exquisitely balancing taste, technique, freshness and emotion while making it all look easy.

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