"Prelude To A Kiss" won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo. ELEGY IN BLUE was nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance By An Individual Or Group and the title song was nominated for Best Instrumental Composition.
Impeccably ... Full Descriptionrecorded, gorgeously conceived and executed, this is the kind of jazz album they don't make any more. Except that Benny Carter has been making them for over 60 years, as one of the preeminent big band arrangers and alto saxophone stylists in the history of jazz. Reflecting as it does the urbane charm and commanding musicianship of Benny Carter, perhaps this Grammy-nominated recording should have been dubbed ELEGANCE IN BLUE.
ELEGY IN BLUE is comprised of reminisces for fallen comrades, but there is nothing but celebration and joy in this superb band's reflections, and they transcend narrow stylistic categories. ELEGY IN BLUE is the ripe, blossoming main stem of the jazz traditions as defined by honorees Ben Webster, Lee Morgan, Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington, Roy Eldrdidge, Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt, Charlie Shavers...and Benny Carter himself.
Swing is the order of the day. The band backs into Johnny Hodges' bouncy blues line "Good Queen Bess" with the classic vamp from "Christopher Columbus"; bassist Ray Brown, guitarist Mundel Lowe, drummer Jeff Hamilton and pianist Cedar Walton lock into cruise control, and Carter and Harry "Seets" Edison enunciate a warbling harmonized line before breaking into pungent, sassy solo turns. Mr. Ellington's turquoise "Prelude To A Kiss" is taken at a lush, moaning tempo, as modernist Walton essays taut, lyrical lines over a Basie-like pulse, setting the table for Carter's tear-drop long tones and dancing lines. And among all the hot and cool highlights, Carter's title tune is a fitting climax, a gently testifying blues with modern melodic turns, Ellingtonian asides, and a vaudevillian turnaround.
Recorded at Group IV Studios, Los Angeles, California on May 18 & 19, 1994. Includes liner notes by Ed Berger.
Down Beat (12/94, p.51) - 4 Stars - Very Good - "...The fresh material, the preponderance of peppy tempos, and good routining of the music make a classy setting for one of the boldest stylistic signatures anywhere....The rock-solid stability of Carter's attack, intonation, and rhythmic intrigue is one of the wonders of music..."
Jazziz (2/95, p.88) - "...a welcome addition to Carter's vast catalog.... Time hasn't robbed Carter of his improvisatory powers; he's still blessed with an unbeatable combination of technique and feeling..."