From Learner to Leader, 1920s-1940s

Carter traveled to Europe in 1935 to join Willie Lewis’ orchestra in Paris primarily as a trumpeter and arranger. In March 1936, he moved to London where he arranged for the BBC Dance Orchestra under the direction of Henry Hall. Although his public appearances were restricted by British union regulations, Carter made an extensive series of recordings with top British musicians for Vocalion. He also gave a highly acclaimed concert at London’s Hippodrome. Carter continued to tour and record in Holland, Sweden, Denmark, and France in addition to his work in England. During this time, he is credited with leading the first interracial, international orchestra. He teamed with tenor giant Coleman Hawkins, also living in Europe, on two occasions for recordings. Finally, in 1938, with war imminent, Carter returned to the United States.

Musical Selection: "I'm in the Mood for Swing" from Benny Carter, Volume 9: 1938-1939, Masters of Jazz, MJCD 124 (1997).

Carter with McKinney's Cotton Pickers, 1931. Carter with McKinney's Cotton Pickers, 1931.
Publicity photo, c. 1930. Publicity photo, c. 1930.

Carter with fans in Copenhagen, 1937. Carter with fans in Copenhagen, 1937.
Carter in England, 1936. Carter in England, 1936.
Program for Carter concert, London Hippodrome, January 10,1937. London Hippodrome, January 10, 1937.
Portrait in London 1936. Portrait in London, 1936.
Carter and his band at Savoy, 1939. Carter and his band at Savoy, 1939.
Benny Carter: Eight Decades in American Music

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