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Benny Carter
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Musician
    (August 8, 1907-July 12, 2003)
    Born in The Bronx, New York
    Saxophonist, clarinetist, trumpeter, arranger, composer, and bandleader
    Recorded the albums 'Benny Carter Plays Pretty' (1954), 'Jazz Giant' (1958), 'Further Definitions' (1961), 'Additions to Further Definitions' (1966), 'The King' (1976), 'A Gentleman and His Music' (1985), 'In the Mood for Swing' (1988), 'Elegy in Blue' (1994), and 'New York Nights' (1997)
    Arranger for bandleaders Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and Count Basie, and vocalists Louie Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, and Peggy Lee
    Wrote the songs 'When Lights Are Low,' 'When Day Is Done,' 'Cow Cow Boogie,' 'A Kiss from You,' and 'Only Trust Your Heart
    Wrote scores for the films 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro' (1952), 'The Five Pennies' (1959), and 'Buck and the Preacher' (1972), and episodes of 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents,' 'Ironsides,' and 'The Bob Hope Show'
    Appeared in the films 'As Thousands Cheer' (1943), 'Stormy Weather' (1943), 'An American in Paris' (1951), and 'Clash by Night' (1952)
    He was sent to a reformatory after shooting a girl in the back with a bb gun.
    He was expelled from school after punching a teacher. (In fairness to Carter, the teacher had called him the n-word.)
    Three of his five marriages ended in divorce. (As for the other two, his first wife died of pneumonia after three years of marriage; his final wife outlived him.)
    His own bands never reached the same level of popularity as the bands he arranged for: 'No band I ever led achieved a sound the general public could immediately identify. Goodman had one, so did Glenn Miller.'
    AllMusic, after praising his abilities on sax, trumpet, clarinet and piano, conceded, 'His rare vocals show that even he was human.'
    While touring Europe, he assembled one of the first interracial jazz bands (1937-38).
    As an arranger, he was considered one of the creators of the big band sound.
    Members of his bands included Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, and Miles Davis.
    He filed a lawsuit that resulted in the California state courts ruling that racially exclusive housing covenants were illegal (1944).
    He played a leading role in desegregating the local musicians union in Los Angeles.
    He was sponsored by the US State Department on tours of the Middle East, Europe, and Japan.
    He made records in eight different decades (from 1928 to 1997).
    He was so prolific that a New York City radio station was able to celebrate his 75th birthday by playing his music nonstop for a week.
    His honors included being inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame (1977), being named a NEA Jazz Master (1986), and receiving the National Medal of the Arts (2000).

Credit: C. Fishel


 
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