Home > Benny Carter, 1994

Benny Carter wears his royal robes with distinction as supreme musician, orchestra leader, composer, arranger and educator.

A native of New York, Carter relocated to Los Angeles in the early 40’s. He is largely a self-taught saxophonist and composer. His training grounds were with the bands of Charlie Johnson, Fletcher Henderson and Chick Webb. His incredible career has earned him endless awards and tributes, as well as the respect of all those who have shared the stage with him.

So abundant are his recordings, they are contained in an entire volume of a two-volume biography, ‘Benny Carter, A Life In American Music’. Although Carter has sustained a leader status since his first band in 1933 – and has been an inspiration to sidemen that included Teddy Wilson, Chu Berry, Ben Webster, J.J. Johnson, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie – he has also been a forceful component in many all-star groups through the years.

His first recorded arrangement with Fletcher Henderson in 1927 established Carter’s status as a first rate arranger. Also benefiting from his beautifully crafted orchestrations were Ellington, Basie, Miller, and Goodman, as well as the BBC in London where Carter spent a year as staff arranger 1936-37.

In 1943, he began composing and arranging for movies and later for TV. Carter’s first published work was ‘Nobody Knows How Much I Love You’, written with Fats Waller in 1928. While his 1936 ‘When Lights Are Low’, is most widely recorded, his 1942 ‘Cow Cow Boogie’, was the pop hit for singer Ella Mae Morse that set up Capitol Records.

Other accolades received are NARAS Lifetime Achievement Awards, the Benny Award (International Federation of Jazz Societies); designation of National Treasure of Jazz by Congress and honorary doctorates from Princeton, Rutgers and Harvard Universities.

We are sorry to report that Benny passed away 7-12-03.