[JPL] Harry Carney's 100th

Tom Reney tr at wfcr.org
Thu Apr 1 07:49:22 EDT 2010


Today is the centennial of Harry Carney's birth, born in Boston on April 
1, 1910.  The baritone saxophonist, whose magisterial sound was 
unequaled, spent the summer of 1926 playing with Ellington around New 
England; his 47-year-long tenure with Duke began the following year when 
he was 17.  Carney attributed his style to the dual influence of Coleman 
Hawkins on the upper register of his horn, and to bass saxophonist 
Adrian Rollini on the bottom. 

Rex Stewart, the trumpeter and Ellingtonian whose vivid writings on the 
jazz life were published in the collection /Jazz Masters of the 
Thirties/, suggested that Carney's "career with Duke must set a record 
of some sort for longevity."  Stewart also surmised that Carney was 
"such a likable human being...since he is the product of a most 
harmonious household...His parents always extended themselves...every 
time we played Boston.  [His] mother would put on a feast that even now 
makes my mouth water, especially those codfish cakes, hot rolls, and 
baked beans...Any member of the group who was ever exposed to the Carney 
hospitality has never forgotten it."

During the last two decades of their lives, Carney and Ellington 
traveled hundreds of thousands of miles together with Harry at the wheel 
of a Chrysler Imperial.  "He's a great fellow," Carney said of his boss, 
"and it's not only been an education being with him but also a great 
pleasure.  At times I've been ashamed to take the money!" Upon Duke's 
death, Carney lamented, "This is the worst day of my life. Without Duke 
I have nothing to live for."  Carney died six months later on October 8, 
1974.

I'll devote over an hour of tonight's show to Harry Carney, including 
some of his features with Duke ("Slap Happy," "Sophisticated Lady," "La 
Plus Belle Africaine") and a few selections from his 1954 session (which 
is buried in the Ben Webster reissue on Verve, /Music for Torching/) 
featuring arrangements by Ralph Burns and Billy Strayhorn.

-- 
Tom Reney
"Jazz à la Mode"
Monday-Friday, 8 - 11 p.m.
 
WFCR
NPR News and Music for Western New England
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Amherst, MA 01003-9257
 
tr at wfcr.org
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