The problem of expressing the contributions that Benny Carter has made to popular music is so tremendous it completely fazes me, so extraordinary a musician is he.
-- Duke Ellington (Metronome, 11/43)
You got Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and my man, the Earl of Hines, right? Well, Benny's right up there with all them cats. Everybody that knows who he is calls him 'King.' He is a king!
-- Louis Armstrong (in A Call to Assembly by Willie Ruff, Viking, 1991)
Everybody ought to listen to Benny. He's a whole musical education.
-- Miles Davis (to Leonard Feather, Down Beat, 5/25/61)
He's everything a musician would want to be.
-- Ella Fitzgerald (in Benny Carter: Symphony in Riffs, a film by Harrison Engle, 1991)
Benny opened the eyes of a lot of producers and studios, so that they could understand that you could go to blacks for other things outside of blues and barbecue. He's a total musician. He was the pioneer, he was the foundation. He made it possible for that doubt to be taken away.
-- Quincy Jones (in Benny Carter: Symphony in Riffs, a film by Harrison Engle, 1991)
...probably the most rounded and sophisticated of all the jazz composers.
-- André Previn (in Benny Carter: Symphony in Riffs, a film by Harrison Engle, 1991)
He's the consummate musician. More than anyone else, he represents what American music is all about.
-- David Sanborn (in Benny Carter: Symphony in Riffs, a film by Harrison Engle, 1991)
When I grow up I want to be just like Benny Carter!
-- Dizzy Gillespie (concert, Princeton University, 11/10/79)
He's no Bill Clinton!
-- Benny Carter (upon returning from jamming with the saxophone-playing King of Thailand, 2/96)
From the small clubs of the Harlem Renaissance where he began playing saxophone to world tours for the biggest of the big bands, Benny Carter redefined American jazz. From the start, his fellow musicians said the way he played the sax was amazing. They say that about me, too. (Laughter.) But I don't think they mean it in quite the same way. (Laughter.)
-- President Bill Clinton (excerpt from remarks at Kennedy Center Honors reception, 12/8/96)
He is all that every jazz musician the world over wants to be. He's performed 20,000 nights. How many shoes have been shined? How much mascara put on? Rouge? How many of those impossible bowties have been tied? How many love songs have been sung? How many dances have been danced? How many have passed to the sound of his music? It's been said that a man should not be forced to live up to his art. Benny Carter is one of the rare instances when we wonder whether the great art that a man has created can live up to him.
-- Wynton Marsalis (excerpt from remarks at Kennedy Center Honors program, 12/3/96)
I had the chance to play with Benny "The King" Carter here in Copenhagen for three days in the Montmartre, and two days in Paris. "What a Thrill." He knows so much music, and he is the only person that I get the shakes trying to play my horn behind or with him (smile). However, it was a ball.
-- Ben Webster in a letter to Mary Lou Williams, postmarked Copenhagen, September 16, 1971 (courtesy of the Mary Lou Williams Collection at the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University)
No one in jazz history—including Armstrong, Ellington, Gillespie, Parker, you name him or her—was more universally admired by his brethren.
-- Gary Giddins (in The Village Voice, 8/20/03)
Benny Carter is the perfect example of what a jazz musician should strive to be in today's world: a phenomenal instrumentalist, a seasoned composer, a passionate storyteller, and a musician who understands how good it feels to swing. My hero!
-- Sherman Irby
When Benny Carter walked into the room, soul walked in with him.
-- Wynton Marsalis (at Newport Jazz Feastival, 8/1/14)