Benny Carter: Whisper to One


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Back in June 1995 Benny Carter recorded two albums of his own songs. Aptly titled Benny Carter Songbook I and Benny Carter Songbook II, the albums showcased the alto saxophonist-trumpeter playing his own compositions. The albums were the brainchild of producers Danny Kapilian and Ed Berger.

On the second volume was a song called Whisper to One. Carter wrote the music and Al Stillman, a Jewish lyricist, wrote the words. I was mystified, since the song was completely new to me. Only when I recently watched Sammy Davis Jr. in A Man Called Adam (1966) did I realize that the song Carter and Stillman had written was for the film.

When I recently heard Davis sing it in the movie, I thought the song was nearly as good as Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen's One for My Baby (and One for the Road) and Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life. Yet few knew the song, probably because the film disappeared, and the song never became a standard. Which is baffling, given how good it is.

Fortunately, I was able to find a clip at YouTube from the film of Davis singing the song (with Jo Jones on drums and Kai Winding on trombone). You be the judge...

Here's the full song from the film's soundtrack, with cornet by Nat Adderley)...

And here's Barbara Lea singing the song on Benny Carter Songbook II, with Carter taking an alto saxophone solo mid-song and Chris Neville on the piano solo...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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