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V« THE INSTRUMENTS, THE SOUNDS, THE PERFORMERS
performances of straightforward melodic tales a thousand times told.
Benny Carter, a year Hodges* junior, joined the jazz elite about the same time, recording from 1929 with a series of groups known as the Chocolate Dandies, and from 1933 with his own big band. Though Carter has distinguished himself in a half dozen roles, as trumpeter, clarinetist, composer, arranger, leader, it is the alto saxophone that is his automatic association in the minds of the countless jazzmen whose respect he has gained and retained during the past three decades. Carter's alto has the identical virtues found in Hodges/ yet both are completely themselves and can be readily recognized on atiy recording. The Carter tone is perhaps even more personal than Hodges', for while the latter has acquired many capable imitators (Woody Herman, Johnny Bothwell, Charlie Barnet) there has never been another alto man comparably close to Benny* In their choice of material they have varied greatly, Hodges preferring rslow blues and ballads while Carter, though also an expert ballad performer, prefers his jazz performances in faster tempi, whether blues or not. There is in Carter's work, even in his earthiest moments, a certain dignity and assurance, mirroring the personality of the man. It is the same with every instrument Carter touches: even when he picks up a trumpet one feels that he would never place a derby over it inside the house.
The big bands of the 1930s produced a few first-class alto soloists: Charlie Holmes, of the Luis Russell band, was one of the best of the Hodges school, while Hilton Jefferson, with Henderson and Webb, seemed to indicate a Carter influence. Edgar Sampson, better known as a composer-arranger, played alto with the Webb band in a Carter-cum-Hodges vein.
The most trenchant new alto sounds of the mid-30s gushed from the voluble, sui generis horn of Pete Brown. In him can be found a matchless example of the style reflecting the man. Physically he displayed a globular framework, a wide-eyed, smiling face, with a disposition to match; musically his wheezy-toned, staCcato style, tie ad-lib lines strung out like a witty story with a cumulative series of punch-lines, were among the great alto works of their day and were still available, in modern-