Benny Carter Elegy in Blue

On Elegy in Blue, Benny Carter pays tribute to nine of his peers by performing a composition by each. The title track is Carter’s own affecting dedication to these artists, most of whom were his contemporaries and several of whom were dear friends as well.

Benny Carter – Alto sax
Harry "Sweets" Edison – Trumpet
Cedar Walton – Piano
Mundell Lowe – Guitar
Ray Brown – Bass
Jeff Hamilton – Drums 
Original release 1994, this release 2008. 



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Just a glance at the line-up tells any serious jazz fan that they are in for a treat. Benny and Sweets are (along with Ray Brown) some of the older musicians, but they are also among the best and the album demonstrates this throughout. What inspired choices Cedar Walton, Jeff Hamilton and Mundell Lowe were to complete the band: they all play their part to perfection. In these days, where a lot of the so-called jazz has no recognisable chord sequence or for that matter no time and swing, this record makes for most pleasurable listening. The music is always accessible and at the same time cleanly played.

The idea behind the choice of tunes is that with each track Benny should play a tribute to one of his illustrious contemporaries. According to the sleeve-notes, the guys had a great time in the studio and it shows in the music they produced. It all works well, because there is no attempt by any of the soloists to copy the style of the person to whom the tune is dedicated; instead in each case they interpret the tune in their own way. With a rhythm section like this one, the front-line men must have thought they were in heaven!

If, like me, you are tired of trying to understand the complex concoctions presented by many contemporary musicians on the jazz scene today, have a day off, sit in a comfortable chair, relax and enjoy this record.

Don Mather,

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