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Thu, 08.08.1907

Benny Carter, Jazz Musician born

Benny Carter

*On this date, in 1907, Benny Carter was born. He was a Black Saxophonist, Trumpeter, Composer, and Bandleader.

From New York City, Carter studied piano with his mother and was inspired by his neighbor, Bubber Miley, a musician with Duke Ellington's band. He began sitting in at Harlem night spots at 15, leaving school and making his professional debut in 1923.  For 80 years, he was rated at the top of jazz as an instrumentalist, composer/arranger, and leader. Well-liked and respected by generations of musicians, many of whom “went to school” in his bands; Sid Catlett, Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, Max Roach, and Teddy Wilson were just a few.

His writing for his signature instrument (Saxophone) was especially dynamic. On the Saxophone, he and Johnny Hodges were its founders before Charlie Parker and the heyday of bebop. Carter was the first black composer to break the color barrier in Hollywood’s film studios.  Carter scored for many major films and television shows, including M-Squad, Banyon, and Ironside, and received an honorary doctorate in music from Princeton University, where he taught in 1974. Film soundtracks include The Snows Of Kilimanjaro and Flower Drum Song, among others. In 1988, he toured Europe, visited Japan with his band, and performed in Brazil for the first time while recording three albums.

Carter was a vibrantly creative improviser. Benny Carter died in Los Angeles on July 12, 2003.

To Become a Musician or Singer

To Become a Conductor or Composer



All That Jazz The Illustrated Story of Jazz Music
General Editor: Ronald Atkins
Copyright 1996, Carlton Books Limited
ISBN 0-76519-953-X

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