b. Bennett Lester Carter on Aug. 8, 1907, in New York City
d. July 12, 2003
“A big, big person walked out of the room yesterday,” said friend and producer Quincy Jones. “A great human being.”
Benny Carter was a self-taught saxophone and trumpet player before becoming a bandleader in the late 1920s. During the corse of his 60+ year career he played and composed for just about everyone including such big band luminaries like Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and be-bob genius Dizzy Gillespie.
Carter is best know for his sax work, but he is also considered to be a clasic composer and arranger. He made his recording debut in 1928 as a part of Charlie Johnson’s Orchestra. He began to arrange some of the bands music and soon afterwards joined Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra and became the big bands primary arrnager.
“You got Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and my man, the Earl of Hines, right? Well, Benny’s right up there with all them cats. Everybody that knows who he is calls him ‘King.’ He is a king,” Louis Armstrong said about Carter.
Between 1942 and 1946 Carter led a band, which included bebop Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Clarke and later Miles Davis.
Carter also composed and arranged music for movies and TV shows including: An American in Paris, The Guns of Navarone, M Squad and It Takes a Thief among others.
Carter was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. In 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Arts.
There are several selected discographies of Carter's work:
quotes from MSNBC obituary