Benny Carter was born in New York and was largely a self-taught
musician, although he had early lessons on the trumpet which he
continued to play throughout his professional life; his saxophone
idol was Frank Trumbauer. Carter played in the Earl
Hines band of the 1920s, and by 1928 he was both playing with
and arranging for Fletcher Henderson
and Duke Ellington.
Carter forms a sextet and works mainly on the West
Coast, and his band includes, at various times, J.J.
Johnson and Miles Davis. While on
the West Coast he is offered work writing for Twentieth-Century
Fox films. In 1945 he settles in Hollywood - writing for films by
day and playing in clubs by night. He spends 40 years writing film
and television music (the theme for Ironside for example),
and arranging for high profile singers such as Ray Charles.
Carter leads his own group sporadically and his 1932 band includes
Teddy Wilson, Ben
Webster and Bill Coleman.
In 1935 Carter moves to Paris and joins the Willie Lewis band.
Carter works in 1936 as a staff arranger for Henry Hall's BBC Dance
Orchestra, and stays on in Europe until 1938. He returns to the States
in 1938 to form a big band, but commercially he has arrived too late
on the scene, and his band is a financial failure.
Carter becomes more active on the jazz scene, as both teacher