Mel Martin / Benny Carter Quintet: Just Friends (2007)
Carter and Martin remained close friends until Carter's passing in July 2003, less than a month before his ninety-sixth birthday, and their camaraderie is evident throughout this buoyant session, released to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Carter's birth. As Martin says in Ed Berger's discerning liner notes, "I never had more fun on a bandstand with anybody. He's clearly having a good time here, as are Carter and the perceptive rhythm sectionpianist Roger Kellaway (a splendid soloist in his own right), bassist Jeff Chambers and drummer Harold Jones.
Carter's glossy alto sax glistens on every number save his own "People Time, on which Martin's flute and Kellaway's piano are paired in a charming duet. Martin plays tenor the rest of the way, starting with a playful cruise through Juan Tizol's venerable "Perdido. Martin wrote "Spritely, Carter "Elegy in Blue to enhance the album's standards "Secret Love and "Just Friends, the last of which crowns the concert while giving Jones a chance to solo.
Even though Carter is the ace in the hole, his colleagues hold strong suits as well and play them with awareness and finesse. When the cards have been dealt it's a winning hand, one that readily trumps any misgivings with unwavering proficiency.
Track Listing: Perdido; People Time; Secret Love; Spritely; Elegy in Blue; Just Friends.
Personnel: Mel Martin: tenor sax, flute; Benny Carter: alto sax; Roger Kellaway: piano; Jeff Chambers: bass; Harold Jones: drums.
Record Label: Jazzed Media