Bennett Lester Carter (August 8, 1907 – July 12, 2003) was an American jazz alto saxophonist, clarinetist, trumpeter, composer, arranger, and bandleader. He was a major figure in jazz from the 1930s to the 1990s, and was recognized as such by other jazz musicians who called him King. In 1958, he performed with Billie Holiday at the legendary Monterey Jazz Festival. The National Endowment for the Arts honored Benny Carter with its highest honor in jazz, the NEA Jazz Masters Award for 1986. He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, winner of the Grammy Award in 1994 for his solo "Prelude to a Kiss", and also the same year, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2000 awarded the National Endowment for the Arts, National Medal of Arts, presented by President Bill Clinton.
New vinyl remaster of
, recorded in 1980, sees Benny Carter in the latter part of a pioneering and exceptionally long career return to Copenhagen for a session that documents his accumulated relationship with the alto saxophone and why he is remembered as one of the instrument’s defining players. On a Sunday in August of 1980, Carter found a comfortable dynamic in a quartet finely tuned to his still obvious talents on the alto sax and who also managed to make their own mark on a series of Carter’s own songs as well as those of a few others.
Although he played trumpet, trombone, clarinet, tenor and piano at different points in his career, it is as an alto saxophonist that Benny Carter achieved his enviable reputation as an instrumentalist. The broad, sweeping phrases of his improvisations have the structural stability of compositions in their own right, and here, his approach to the instrument benefits from having been honed throughout the prior decades.
Benny Carter had previously toured in Scandinavia in the 1930s when he had made a name for himself in the United States writing for and playing with the bands of Charlie Johnson, Horace and Fletcher, Don Redman and others. On this first encounter with european audiences, Carter was welcomed with open arms, and perhaps this initial meeting played into him going back to Copenhagen to record
almost 44 years later.