Sunday, 14 April 2013

16. Benny Carter & His Orchestra 1929 - 1933

This is, in my opinion, an essential album to have in any jazz collection, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the recordings capture how jazz was moving from it's New Orleans and Chicago roots at the end of the 1920's to the big band sound that would dominate the 1930's and early 1940's. Secondly, it contains some of the best players of their generation. Coleman Hawkins, Chu Berry, Rex Stewart, Fats Waller, JC Higginbotham, Don Redman, Dicky Wells, Red Allen and Sid Catlett are all showcased here. Finally, it provides an excellent introduction to one of the giants of 20th century jazz and one of it's finest alto sax players, Benny Carter.

The first seven tracks are Benny Carter's arrangements of the Chocolate Dandies, a kind of offshoot of the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. Worth noting is the riff of Six Or Seven Times which was to be used in Count Basie's One O'Clock Jump nine years later. The next few tracks are from Carter's own orchestra. He would never attain the heights of Goodman or Ellington in terms of success yet there are some great tracks here, in particular the frenetic Swing It. Yet it is the last half of the album that should get the most attention. Labelled under "Spike Hughes And His Negro Orchestra", the songs are regarded as some of the finest jazz recordings. In songs like Bugle Call Rag, the talents of the tenor giants Hawkins and Berry are well showcased as are those of Red Allen, Shad Collins, Dickie Wells and Carter himself.

1. That's How I Feel Today
2. Six or Seven Times
3. Goodbye Blues
4. Cloudy Skies
5. Got Another Sweetie Now
6. Bugle Call Rag
7. Dee Blues
8. Tell All Your Day Dreams to Me
9. Swing It
10. Synthetic Love
11. Six Bells Stampede
12. Love, You're Not the One for Me
13. Nocturne
14. Someone Stole Gabriel's Horn
15. Pastorale
16. Bugle Call Rag
17. Arabesque
18. Fanfare
19. Sweet Sorrow Blues
20. Music at Midnight
21. Sweet Sue, Just You
22. Air in D Flat
23. Donegal Cradle Song

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