Commemorating Benny Carter's 100th birthday celebration salute: Unreleased live recording with Benny Carter on alto saxophone and Mel Martin on tenor saxophone and flute- with Roger Kellaway on piano, Jeff Chambers on bass, and Harold Jones on drums.
"I grew up in the neighborhood and went to school with Benny's daughter. As to Benny - I wish I could be as great as Benny Carter." Sonny Rollins - 2007
'It is obvious on this great recording that Mel Martin was finely mentored by Benny Carter, my number one saxophone hero, due to the clear Carter influence on Mel's playing. His flute playing is also quite good on People Time.' Jimmy Heath - 2007
Mel Martin was a champion of Benny Carter's music while Carter was alive and has worked tirelessly to preserve his legacy since the maestro's death in 2003. This welcome recording presents more material from their felicitous collaboration at Yoshi's in Oakland in April of 1994. Although some material from that engagement was included in the superb Mel Martin Plays Benny Carter (Enja), the tracks herein are by no means "leftovers." They find Carter, who was nearing 87 at the time, in excellent form, clearly buoyed by the sympathetic rhythm section and by the presence of his friend and fellow saxophonist.
It has been almost a decade since Benny Carter played his last note in public but, thanks to Mel Martin, we can once again hear him in ideal company and in fine sound. Martin's friendship with Carter continued over the ensuing years. "This music business can be very rough on people and there are times you're going to really feel down," Martin says. "I would call Benny sometimes just to talk and I always felt better afterward. In his easygoing way, he was so encouraging and 'validating.' When someone of that stature treats you like that, any other disappointments fall into perspective. I felt, if I'm okay with Benny Carter, I must be doing something right!"
Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University
Co-author, Benny Carter: A Life in American Music (Scarecrow Press)
"Just Friends" Video
"A Conversation with Mel Martin and Benny Carter" Video