Instrumentalist and bandleader Benny Carter is the the focus of this year’s Jazz Appreciation Month celebration set for April. The theme is chosen by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.
Along with highlighting Carter’s legacy, the Smithsonian is also focusing on how jazz itself is a form of democracy “as a form of communication, as a solo or group, and as an equalizer.”
Carter was an African American musician, composer, arranger, and bandleader who made major contributions to the development of jazz, helped define the role of the alto saxophone, and whose work helped break down boundaries in the music and entertainment industries.
A native of Harlem, Carter was Largely self-taught starting on the trumpet, although the alto saxophone eventually became his principal instrument. He participated in tours with Jazz at the Philharmonic and wrote arrangements for singers including Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. Carter received numerous awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. Carter died in 2003 at the age of 95.
In 2000, Carter donated his collection to the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History, which has led to many resources available for jazz scholars, teachers, and students.
Jazz Appreciation Month (fondly known as “JAM”) was created right here at the museum in 2002 to herald and celebrate the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz for the entire month of April.
The month is intended to stimulate and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz – to study the music, attend concerts, listen to jazz on radio and recordings and read books about jazz.
Go to www.smithsonianjazz.org for more information.