Recent listening, current

Monday, November 4, 2013

145. Benny Carter & His Orchestra / Further Definitions (1961)

This octet features the alto saxes of Green and Phil Woods playing across from Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Rouse on tenor. The lineup recreates the famous Green-Hawkins date from Paris 1937 while harkening back to the swing era's "dueling" sax lineups, fashioned after the Basie model. This time, several 30+ year veterans team up with players of the next generation like Woods, Rouse, and Jimmy Garrison. It's a real sympatico affair, a collage of distinctive voices working together in a shared, now classic style. Their danceable, infectious small group swing is a far cry from Impulse's stock and trade just a few years later. Carter's arrangements provide amply for the players, and the set rolls without a hitch. I love "Body and Soul," especially when Hawk plays it. It's a gem, and Carter's chart gives him all the room he wants. Woods' work on "Crazy Rhythm" (a chestnut also from the Paris date) is notable, drawing equally from the work of his mentors and his own developing style. The solid, self-assured vibe feels a lot like Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins or Verve's Ben Webster and Associates. Comparisons aside, it's something you want to own for its sheer enjoyability, if not for its historical value.


  1. Got this as well. Although it does not get a lot outings onto the turntable in either the office or the lounge, when it does, it is always hugely enjoyable.
    Very underrated, not fashionable but the joy of playing just jumps of the grooves and hits you square in the face!

    Great album!

    1. Indeed! The nice part of recordings like this is that there are literally hundreds of them -- a reminder that even routine dates from the most talented guys in the business = some the best music you can get. All in a day's work, but a jaw dropper every time.