“In all honesty, I think I just played what I felt was right for me. And I think I would have done the same thing, even if I’d been born later, when Charlie Parker was influencing everybody. The truth is, I never gave it much thought. I just played what I had to play.”

“I didn’t know Charlie Parker well, but I spent some time with him, and he was articulate and well-spoken with a lot of curiosity about music and the world. But the only way he seems to be depicted is as a junkie. And that’s not the full picture.”

“At my age, I realize that my most precious possession is time, and I’ve got too much unfinished work to do to spend even a minute talking about myself.”

Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie,  with Pacquito D’Rivera and Hank Jones, Smithsonian, 1990
Photo © 1990 Edward Berger

Benny Carter and Wynton Marsalis

Benny Carter and Quincy Jones, 1971 Recording Date in Los Angeles

No one in jazz history,including Armstrong, Ellington, Gillespie, Parker, you name him or her, was more universally admired by his brethren.
– Gary Giddins (in The Village Voice, 8/20/03)

The problem of expressing the contributions that Benny Carter has made to popular music is so tremendous it completely fazes me, so extraordinary a musician is he.
– Duke Ellington (Metronome, 11/43)

Everybody ought to listen to Benny. He’s a whole musical education.
– Miles Davis

…probably the most rounded and sophisticated of all the jazz composers.
– André Previn (in Benny Carter: Symphony in Riffs, a film by Harrison Engle, 1991)

Benny opened the eyes of a lot of producers and studios, so that they could understand that you could go to blacks for other things outside of blues and barbecue. He’s a total musician. He was the pioneer, he was the foundation. He made it possible for that doubt to be taken away.
Quincy Jones (in Benny Carter: Symphony in Riffs, a film by Harrison Engle, 1991)

He’s the consummate musician. More than anyone else, he represents what American music is all about.
David Sanborn (in Benny Carter: Symphony in Riffs, a film by Harrison Engle, 1991)

When I grow up I want to be just like Benny Carter!
Dizzy Gillespie (concert, Princeton University, 11/10/79)


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