Liner Note Author: Nat Hentoff.
Photographer: Georges Braunschweig.
Just shy of being 70-years-old during his appearance at the 1977 Montreux Jazz Festival, veteran alto saxophonist Benny Carter is very much at the top of his game. Joined by a terrific rhythm section, including pianist Ray Bryant, bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, and drummer Jimmie Smith, Carter focuses mostly on standards, played in his inimitable fashion: lyrical, expressive, and witty, Carter was a player who continued to impress his fellow musicians until he retired two decades after this show. Sadly, none of Carter's originals are played, though he plays both alto sax and muted trumpet in a swinging take of "In a Mellow Tone," and open horn exclusively in a rhapsodic "Body and Soul." Bryant's bluesy piano adds a nice touch to "Three Little Words" (which is unfortunately missing its introduction), while Pedersen's virtuoso bass solos are memorable as well. This performance, one of a number of Montreux concerts that impresario Norman Granz arranged to have videotaped (though none of them were commercially issued until over two decades later following Granz's death) isn't flawless, as the video portion occasionally shows the wear and tear of time. But the outstanding nature of the performances themselves merit the purchase of this enjoyable DVD. ~ Ken Dryden