Excerpts from Symphony In Riffs

Benny Carter


A few interesting highlights from a superior documentary

Benny Carter had a remarkably productive life as an alto-saxophonist, trumpeter, arranger, composer and bandleader.

Carter, who was nicknamed “The King” due to his consistent excellence, was in his musical prime for 70 years (1928-98), always contributing classy solos and swinging writing for jazz and music in general.

The late-1980s documentary Symphony In Riffs did a superior job of summing up Carter’s life.

A few excerpts from the film, with Burt Lancaster supplying the narration, feature Carter playing a bit of his uptempo blues “Doozy,” arriving in Los Angeles in the 1940s, performing “Honeysuckle Rose” in the movie Thousands Cheer, leading his big band, and playing “Misty” in 1987.

-Scott Yanow

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