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*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 the age of 15, having left school 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) were 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 own 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.
All That Jazz The Illustrated Story of Jazz Music
General Editor: Ronald Atkins
Copyright 1996, Carlton Books Limited