Benny Carter

Benny-Carter 3Born 1907 NYC, arranger, composer, bandleader, alto saxophonist, and trumpet player, Benny Carter had one of the longest and most celebrated careers in jazz that spanned some 70 years until his death in 2003. A true original, he was a pioneer alto sax soloist and one of the most important and innovative arrangers in all of jazz.

Benny Carter - Episode 1

Benny Carter's works were performed by Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Paul Whiteman, and many other renowned bandleaders of the pre swing and swing era. Carter gives us the “sax soli” i.e. a method of writing for the saxophone section that highlights the tone, full sound, and dexterity of the instrument.
When the Lights are LowBenny Carter and His Swing Quartet1936
P.D.Q. BluesFletcher Henderson Orchestra (arr. by Benny Carter)1927
Six of Seven TimesLittle Chocolate Dandies (Benny Carter Orchestra)1929
Keep a Song in Your SoulFletcher Henderson Orchestra (arr. by Benny Carter)1930
Somebody Loves MeFletcher Henderson Orchestra (arr. by Benny Carter)1930

Benny Carter - Episode 2

Benny Carter enjoyed great popularity as a bandleader, arranger/composer, and soloist in the 1930’s. He spent 3 years in the mid 1930’s in Europe recording and performing with many expatriate American musicians as well as many celebrated European jazz musicians. His popularity as an arranger and soloist were known world-wide by this time. I will play some of his most memorable recordings that feature his arranging skills, as well as his soloing.
Krazy KapersThe Chocolate Dandies with Teddy Wilson1933
Lonesome NightsThe Benny Carter Orchestra1933
Symphony in RiffsThe Benny Carter Orchestra1933
New Swing StreetBenny Carter and the Ramblers1937

Evolution of Jazz Bass

BlantonOn this podcast I examine the history of the bass in jazz from the 1925 through 1930. Most bassists came from the brass traditions–they were originally tuba players. The string bass could not be heard in brass bands or in outdoor venues, nor could it be heard on acoustic recordings. The double bass was used in the string or salon ensembles of the early 20th century. The introduction of the electric microphone in the mid 1920’s was a revelation for listeners and made it possible to record using a double bass. Because most double bassists were originally tuba players, when they played the string bass they would often mimic the 2/2 style of the tuba in the traditional marching band. You can hear the “slap” bass technique used by many bassists of this period–its percussive sound helps drive the band. Occasionally a bassist from this period might play in 4/4 time, but that would evolve later in the 1930’s.

Evolution of Jazz Bass - Episode 1

CompositionArtist/LeaderBassist Year
Milenburg JoysTed Lewis and His BandHarry Barth1925
My Pretty GalJean Goldkette OrchestraSteve Brown1927
Black Bottom StompJelly Roll Morton and Hot PeppersJohn Lindsay1926
China BoyCharles Pierce OrchestraJohnny Mueller1928
Voice of the SouthlandThelma Terry and her PlayboysThelma Terry1928
Freeze and MeltJoe Turner and his Memphis MenWellman Braud1929
PanamaLuis Russell OrchestraGeorge “Pops” Foster1930

Evolution of Jazz Bass - Part 2

We begin to see a shift in the manner in which the double bass is played beginning by the late 1920’s. Bassists on recordings from what was referred to as the Southwest Territory, really Kansas City, often would play 4 beats to a measure. This was the beginning of the more modern walking style of bass playing. Walter Page did not invent the walking style but he certainly perfected it. Walter Page was later a member of the famous Count Basie rhythm section that led to the development modern jazz rhythm section. The bassists featured on this podcast were more adept soloists than their predecessors and all were starting to walk the bass in a fluid and even manner.
Squabblin’Walter Page and his Blue DevilsWalter Page1929
Pagin’ the DevilThe Kansas City SixWalter Page1938
Chinatown, My ChinatownFletcher Henderson OrchestraJohn Kirby1930
ShagNew Orleans FeetwarmersWilson Meyers1932
My! Oh, My!Eddie South QuartetMilt Hinton1933
Pluckin’ the BassCab Calloway OrchestraMilt Hinton1939

Evolution of Jazz Bass - Part 3

This podcast will feature some outstanding, but lesser known bassists from the 1930’s. All were good timekeepers and soloists. It is interesting to hear the bass being featured more often on recordings as we get closer to the 1940’s. The last excerpt on the podcast is from the legendary bassist, Jimmy Blanton. Enough cannot be said of his amazing talent. Duke Ellington hired him on the spot after hearing him play in St. Louis one evening. He died at a tragically young age, but during his time with Duke Ellington he made some monumental recordings. Ellington often featured him as a timekeeper, soloist, and as an ensemble player. Blanton revolutionized the way the bass functioned in jazz and gave us a blueprint for the next generation of jazz bassist.
Rug Cutter SwingHenry Allen OrchestraElmer James1934
Hawaiian War SongAndy Iona and his IslandersSam Koki1934
Liza Pull Down the ShadesBob Wills and Texas PlayboysSon Lanford1938
Bugle Call RagCandy and CocoCandy Candido1934
Deep Blue MelodyDon Albert OrchestraJames Johnson1936
Sepia PanoramaDuke EllingtonJimmy Blanton1941

History of Big Bands

Hickman_Orch_Action_ShotWhen someone mentions big bands the first thought is often the period from 1935 to 1945, referred to as the “Swing Era.” Big bands or orchestras that played ragtime or other types of syncopated popular music for dancing have been around since the late 19th century. The history of the bands from the “swing era” goes back at least this far. James Reese Europe’s Clef Club Orchestra is probably the earliest of the popular dance orchestras that provided the blue print for the evolution of the big dance (jazz) band of the 1920’s. Europe’s group did not play jazz, but a ragtime version of syncopated music./h7>

History of the Big Bands - Episode 1

The recordings on this podcast represent the best in popular syncopated dance music from this period. The only group here that, in any way, might have represented authentic New Orleans music is the ODJB. Although Europe and Wilbur Sweatman were African American, they were not from New Orleans. One of the great tragedies in jazz research is that we have no jazz recordings of African-American musicians from New Orleans prior to 1921.
Castle House RagJames Reese Europe’s Society Orchestra1914
The Chicken WalkSix Brown Brothers1916
I’d Love to Fall Asleep….Benson Orchestra of Chicago1920
Rose RoomArt Hickman Orchestra1919
Livery Stable BluesThe Original Dixieland Jazz Band (ODJB)1917
Slide Kelly SlideWilbur Sweatman Orchestra1919
Japanese SandmanPaul Whiteman Orchestra1920
WhisperingPaul Whiteman Orchestra1920

History of the Big Bands - Episode 2

Many of the great big bands from this period were located in Chicago, but New York was quickly going to become the center for this music. By 1923 pianist Fletcher Henderson had one of the most popular African American dance bands in New York. Both Fletcher and his chief arranger and saxophonist, Don Redman, began to tinker with the stock arrangements they were buying from the large publishing companies. By 1924 Redman and Henderson had established an original sound---one that captured the energy and sound of New Orleans collective improvisation, yet was largely written out for the musicians. This was also the year that Henderson hired a young cornet play from New Orleans that he had met in Chicago by the name of Louis Armstrong. For 9 months in late 1924 through 1925 Armstrong lived in New York and performed with the Henderson Orchestra. Armstrong’s presence in the Henderson Orchestra, and for that matter, the city of New York, changed jazz forever. The Henderson Orchestra, with the Redman arrangements, set the blueprint for big band jazz in the next decade.
Stomp OffErskine Tate1926
The Memphis Maybe ManDoc Cook Dreamland Orchestra1924
Dicty BluesFletcher Henderson Orchestra1923
Oh BabyDixie Stompers (Fletcher Henderson)1928
CopenhagenFletcher Henderson Orchestra1924
Sugar Foot StompFletcher Henderson Orchestra1925