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Obituaries; Benny Carter, 95; Legendary Saxophonist Also Was Composer-Arranger, Bandleader
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Subjects: Deaths -- Carter, Benny
Author: Thurber, Jon
Date: Jul 14, 2003
Start Page: B.9
Section: California Metro; Part B; Metro Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

Carter was born Bennett Lester Carter, in the Bronx, N.Y. A cousin, Cuban Bennett, was a skilled trumpet player, and became one of young Carter's heroes. Carter bought a cornet from a pawnshop, hoping to emulate his cousin, but soon traded the difficult brass instrument for a C-melody saxophone.

"Carter was now the arranger everyone followed," music scholar Gunther Schuller said of Carter's time with [Fletcher Henderson]. By 1933, he formed his first big band and won considerable critical acclaim, but was not financially successful.

Carter disbanded in 1934 to join an orchestra as featured soloist in Paris. He became a huge success in Europe and virtually a cult figure in Denmark. With the help of a young critic named Leonard Feather, who years later became the jazz critic for The Times, Carter was hired as a $300-a-week arranger for the BBC dance band in London, where he also led a British band on several recording sessions. In 1937 he organized the world's first international and interracial jazz orchestra for a summer residency in the Netherlands. Carter returned to the U.S. in 1938 to resume his career as a recording artist, arranger and composer.

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