Benny Waters (born Benjamin Waters; January 23, 1902, Brighton, Baltimore, Maryland – August 11, 1998, Columbia, Maryland) was a jazz saxophonist and clarinetist known, in part, for the longevity of his career. He began on organ, then switched to clarinet and later added saxophone. The first band he joined in 1918 was Charly Miller's band. In 1922 he attended the New England Conservatory of Music where he gave lessons to Harry Carney. From 1926 till 1931 he joined Charly Johnson 's band. Later on he worked with King Oliver, Fletcher Henderson, Claude Hopkins, and others.( Hot Lips Page ) In these years he made several recordings with King Oliver and Clarence williams. During 1941-1942 he played with the famous Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra. After that he started his own band and played at the "Red Mill" in New York. After NY he stayed for four years in California. From 1952 to 1992 he lived in Paris and in 1996 received the Legion of Honor by the French Ministry of Culture. He continued to perform regularly up to his 95th birthday. Waters became blind in 1992 due to cataract.
Although he has been professionally active for the better part of eighty years and is almost as old as the century, Benny Waters has largely escaped the attentions of musicologists and jazz theorists. Perhaps this indifference arises from his steady consistency, his unflappable ability to fit into a great variety of musical surroundings and his lack of eccentric behaviour patterns. Sadly for the jazz romantics, Benny neither died young nor ruined his talent with excessive self-indulgence. More relevantly, Benny has never allowed himself to believe that his development as a soloist is complete or attempted to coast along on reputation alone. This album will prove a revelation to those who only know of Benny Waters as a footnote in the jazz history books. They will hear a jazz musician whose creative excursions are always inspired, energetic and entertainingly direct. And one who swings magnificently, too. The album's opener, and title track, Hurry On Down (popularised by Nellie Lutcher) spots Benny's knowingly cheeky vocal before featuring some hot alto and a fluent Sealey chorus. The eight-minute version of Lazy River proves to be a marvellous showcase for Benny's clarinet, limpid at slow tempo, hard-edged and passionate in the quicker passages. There's more good alto. As usual, Edgar Battle's Topsy is a swinger, taken here on tenor. Blue Moon is played at a bounce tempo and comes off well. Sunny Side recalls the Hodges alto style and As Time Goes By is slow tenor balladry at its best. See the Light fairly motors along and Lady Be Good is jump tenor, again with a vocal (dig the lyrics!) while Autumn Leaves is taken as a bossa nova, with tenor and alto both featured. Have You Met Miss Jones is relaxed, the tenor warm and luxuriant, before the closer, an understated impromptu blues, breathy tenor to the fore, rounds out a fine set of performances.