Legendary alto saxophone player, jazz composer and big band leader Benny Carter has died at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, a spokeswoman for the medical centre said today. He was 95.
Carter, who was credited with breaking Hollywood’s colour bar by composing and arranging music for such classic films as Stormy Weather, died early yesterday after a brief illness, according to a statement on his web site (www.bennycarter.com).
“Although physically weak, he remained completely lucid and enjoyed speaking with many of his friends worldwide over the past few weeks,” the statement said.
In a career that spanned seven decades, Carter played with such jazz luminaries as pianist Willie “The Lion” Smith, Fats Waller, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, and even traded notes with amateur saxophonist President Bill Clinton at the White House.
Carter’s arrangements were performed by some of the best known jazz big bands, including those led by Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Chick Webb and Glenn Miller.