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Image for Benny Carter

Benny Carter

Benny Carter (musician; born August 8, 1907, New York, New York; died July 12, 2003) A prolific composer, a trailblazing big band leader, an influential arranger, a teacher, a pioneer in Hollywood's racial integration, and a killer saxophonist, pianist, trumpeter, and clarinetist, Carter is one of the true Renaissance men of jazz. Over the past seven decades he has shaped the course of his field, while his melodies have, inexorably and without fanfare, been woven into the tapestry of American music. His lengthy career provides a legacy so rich that a 1983 radio tribute on his 77th birthday marking his contribution to the world of jazz broadcast his music nonstop for 177 hours. Best known to the public as a saxophonist, Carter is praised for his originality and balance of his improvisation, his impeccable musicianship, his intricate melodic inventions. The sheer appeal of his writing has attracted an astonishingly diverse array of singers and instrumentalists: Eubie Blake, Guy Lombardo, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, the Judds, Toots Thielemans, Mel Torme, the Ink Spots, Billy Eckstine, Marian McPartland, Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis, Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, Billie Holliday, Lou Rawls, Ray Charles, Pearl Bailey, and Peggy Lee, to name just a few.