Elder Statesman and Renewal: The 1970s and 1980s


With jazz undergoing something of a of renaissance and film music moving in new directions in the 1970s, Carter's career once again underwent a change. He found himself in great demand on the revitalized jazz scene. Jazz fans and critics worldwide were amazed to discover one of the pioneers of the music returning to the scene as an active player with his abilities undiminished. Not only was Carter playing alto sax as beautifully as ever, but he also began to feature his distinctive trumpet again after an absence of two decades. Carter appeared at all the major festivals as well as playing in nightclubs for the first time in over two decades. In 1977, he began what would become annual tours of Japan leading specially assembled all-star groups. His recording activity picked up as Norman Granz's new Pablo label captured Carter in top form in a variety of settings. As Gary Giddins wrote in the Village Voice, "excepting pianists and Joe Venuti, I don't think any septuagenarian jazzman has ever played with such unimpeded authority."

Carter has also dubbed the 1970s "my education decade." He proved as adept in the classroom as on the bandstand.

 

 

He participated in workshops, master classes, and seminars at many institutions, and spent several semesters as a visiting professor at Princeton which awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1974 (he has received similar honors from Rutgers, Harvard, and the New England Conservatory).

In the 1980s, Carter continued all of these activities and added some more. He wrote several extended works including Glasgow Suite, which he premiered at the Glasgow Festival in 1987, Central City Sketches (premiered in concert with the American Jazz Orchestra in 1987), and Good Vibes (premiered at Lincoln Center).

In 1987, he recorded Central City Sketches for MusicMasters Records, beginning a long relationship which resulted in some 14 albums for the company over the next decade. Carter recorded in evry conceivable setting, from duets to combined jazz and chamber orchestras.


Musical Selection: "Squatty Roo" from Benny Carter Live and Well in Japan, Pablo 0JCCD-736-2.

 

Benny Carter leads his big band during one his 1980s Japanese tours.  One aspect of the upswing in appreciation for Carter during this period could be seen in his annual tours of Japan with groups large and small.  (Photo by Ed Berger) Benny Carter leads his big band during one his 1980s Japanese tours. One aspect of the upswing in appreciation for Carter during this period could be seen in his annual tours of Japan with groups large and small. (Photo by Ed Berger)
Quincy Jones and Benny Carter during 1971 recording date in Los Angeles. Quincy Jones and Benny Carter during 1971 recording date in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Benny Carter)
Carter plays November 1975 concert in Paris with another of jazz's grand masters, Earl Fatha Hines. Benny Carter plays November 1975 concert in Paris with another of jazz's grand masters, Earl "Fatha" Hines. (Photo by Jean-Jacques Nuffer)
Although Carter had first played in late 1970s that he began making annual appearances with small groups and large bands. Although Carter had first played in Japan in 1953, it was not until the late 1970s that he began making annual appearances with small groups and large bands. Although Carter had first played in Japan in 1953, it was not until the late 1970s that he began making annual appearances with small groups and large bands.
Carter first played in Japan in 1953, and by the 1970's, his annual tours became greatly anticipated events.
Carter and trombouist Benny Morton share the stage in this picture taken in the mid 1970s. Carter and trombouist Benny Morton share the stage in this picture taken in the mid 1970s.
Giants at rest during the 1975 Montreux Jazz Festival include, Giants at rest during 1975 Montreux Jazz Festival include, from left, Toots Thielemans, Oscar Peterson, Milt Jackson, Carter, Ella Fitzgerald, Tommy Flanagan, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Zoot Sims, Louis Bellson, Roy Eldridge, Joe Pass and Dizzy Gillespie.
Phil Woods and Benny, photographed during the 1989 <I>My Man Benny, My Man Phil</I> recording session on MusicMasters, are seen playing second instruments, the trumpet for Carter and the clarinet for Woods.  (Photo by Ed Berger) Phil Woods and Benny, photographed during the 1989 My Man Benny, My Man Phil recording session on MusicMasters, are seen playing second instruments, the trumpet for Carter and the clarinet for Woods. (Photo by Ed Berger)
Benny Carter: Eight Decades in American Music

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