Benny Carter in 2002: Life Is Carter’s Main Instrument Now

I’m going to post a few interviews this week that are hosted on Mel Martin’s great site. Here is a cool 2002 interview with Benny Carter by Don Heckman for the Los Angeles Times on the eve of Carter’s 95th birthday. From the interview:

Carter, sitting quietly, smilingly insists that he is “really not a good interview.” But that’s true only if one is seeking the sort of sensationalism that has often surrounded the jazz world rather than the soft-spoken insights that he has to offer. Why, for example, did Ken Burns, despite having interviewed him extensively, find so little of Carter’s accumulated knowledge worthy of inclusion in his massive jazz documentary?

“There’s a lot that’s valuable in what he did,” Carter says in typically courteous fashion. “But I don’t understand why there’s such a need to emphasize all the darker aspects of jazz. It was the same with that Clint Eastwood film, ‘Bird.’ I didn’t know Charlie Parker well, but I spent some time with him, and he was articulate and well spoken with a lot of curiosity about music and the world. But the only way he seems to be depicted is as a junkie. And that’s not the full picture.”

Click here to read Benny Carter in 2002: Life Is Carter’s Main Instrument Now

— Peter Blasevick