[JPL] Sunday Jazz Trivia/Benny Carter

Tom Reney tr at wfcr.org
Tue Sep 23 07:03:27 EDT 2008

Two quick notes on Benny Carter.  It was during his 1936 sojourn in London 
that he first recorded "When Lights Are Low," featuring the English vocalist 
Elisabeth Welch.  A year later in Paris, he and Hawk recorded 4 glorious 
titles with Django and Stephane Grappelli (on piano) as the All-Star Jam 
Jae touted his prowess in non-playing capacities, but he was a monster on 
alto, one of the big three, along with Hodges and Willie Smith, of the 
pre-WWII years, and of those the most influential.  Art Pepper, Phil Woods 
and Cannonball Adderley (and many other altos) had lots of Benny as well as 
Bird in their styles.

Tom Reney

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Eric Jackson" <eric-jackson at comcast.net>
To: <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2008 9:12 AM
Subject: Re: [JPL] Sunday Jazz Trivia

>> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>>> Nat King Cole
>>>  2. He led the BBC Dance Orchestra from the mid to late 30's after he 
>>> moved
>>>> to Europe from the states. Upon his return he was responsible for 
>>>> getting
>>>> black musicians work in Hollywood studios and as an integral part of 
>>>> the
>>>> Musicians Union Locals. Who was he?
>>> Benny Carter
>>> Eric Jackson
>>> Mon - Thurs 8 pm - mid.
>>> 89.7 FM WGBH Boston
>>> www.wgbh.org/jazz
>>>  Jae Sinnett
>> I knew that Benny Carter worked with other European bands but didn't know
>> about his connection with the BBC Dance Orchestra; according to Grove 
>> though
>> (which I only looked at *after* getting the answer) he was only a
>> staff-arranger, did he in fact 'lead' the orchestra?  Do recordings 
>> exist?
>> I have a couple of the Off-The-Air aircheck LPs featuring Benny Carter on
>> the British label Spotlite but they're only American recordings from the
>> 40's, one features Mary Lou Williams on piano though .. N
> I have a 3 CD set on Affinity entitled Benny Carter, The Complete 
> Recordings, 1930 - 1940 vol 1. Even though the set includes several London 
> recording dates, nothing is listed as being by the BBC Orchestra.
> Here is a segment from the informative notes by Alun Morgan that come with 
> the set.
> "In fact he remained with the Willie Lewis band until March 1936 when he 
> received an offer to come to England. This had come about through the good 
> offices of Leonard Feather, who knew of Benny's work through his records. 
> (Benny was familiar with Feather's writings but the two had never met 
> before 18th March when Leonard met Benny off the boat train in Victoria 
> Station.) Thanks to both the recommendations of both Feather and Spike 
> Hughes, Henry Hull, then leading the BBC Dance Orchestra agreed to employ 
> Carter as a staff arranger. Benny's work permit prevented him from 
> actually playing in public or broadcasting  with the Dance Orchestra 
> (although special permission was given for one public concert later.) The 
> permit also had to be renewed at intervals which meant that Benny had to 
> leave the U.K. for a few months at a time and then re-enter, making a 
> fresh application on each occasion.
> Carter recalls that he would produce around six arrangements a week for 
> Henry Hull; sometimes it would be two a day if one was simply a framework 
> for a vocalist. Leonard Feather remembers it was only nine days after he 
> and Carter met at Victoria Station that the BBC Dance Orchestra broadcast 
> it's first arrangement by this brilliant visiting American.
> The work permit did not prevent Benny from making records in Britain and 
> between April and June 1936 he did four dates for the reactivated Vocalion 
> label under the a. and r. responsibility of Feather."
> Eric Jackson
> Mon - Thurs 8 pm - mid.
> 89.7 FM WGBH Boston
> www.wgbh.org/jazz

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