Cosmopolite

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Verve
WORKS: Benny Carter
PERFORMER: Benny Carter (as); Oscar Peterson (p); Barney Kessel & Herb Ellis (g); Bill Harris (tb); Ray Brown (b); Buddy Rich/JC Heard/Bobbie White (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 521 673-2

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When Bennett Lester Carter first took up the saxophone, Louis Armstrong had yet to make his first recordings with King Oliver, Duke Ellington had yet to arrive in New York and Fletcher Henderson was yet to form his big band.

But Carter outlasted them all; only this year he was packing them into New York’s famous Blue Note jazz club, his playing as inventive and gleamingly architectonic as at any point in his career. When these recordings were made, in 1952 and 1954, Carter had perfected a multi-purpose post-Swing-era style that seemed impervious to the changing musical climate around him.

The key to his playing was a melodic resourcefulness and the rare ability to conceive of a solo as a whole. Every note counts when Carter moves into the solo spotlight; ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘I’ve Got the World on a String’ and ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’ are among the gems that make up an album of elegant and consistently swinging jazz.

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Oscar Peterson, although a piano virtuoso, has always been a model accompanist and his work behind Carter is exemplary. In the Thirties and Forties, when jazz had its own royal court of dukes, counts and earls, Carter was known as the King. In 1943, Duke Ellington said: ‘The problem of expressing the contributions of Benny Carter is so tremendous, it completely fazes me… so extraordinary a musician is he.’ The same was true ten years later when these tracks were recorded, and the same is true today. Stuart Nicholson