To celebrate the centennial of jazz legend Benny Carter, Rhapsody Films has reissued director Harrison Engle's 1989 documentary, Benny Carter: Symphony in Riffs. The film documents the saxophonist’s significant placement in the timeline of jazz through unmatchable longevity. The film, narrated by actor Burt Lancaster, swings back and forth effortlessly from past to present. Engle succeeds at portraying the full scope of Carter, the tireless innovator. As well as insightful commentary from Carter himself, the film features praiseworthy commentary from musicians Lena Horne, Quincy Jones, Andre Previn, Ella Fitzgerald, David Sanborn and Dizzy Gillespie, as well as Jazz critic Leonard Feather.
Throughout the film one is allowed to see a creative master at work, composing and arranging at his Beverly Hills home, leading a saxophone ensemble in a Manhattan recording studio and rehearsing his big band during a tour of Japan. In his early eighties at the time of filming, Carter carries himself with the confidence and enthusiasm of someone half his age. His playing, on both alto saxophone and trumpet, crackles with fresh exuberance.
The historic photos and film reels that trace Carter’s career from his days as one of the principal architects of the big band sound to his prominent stature as a Hollywood composer and educator Carter was a visiting professor at Princeton University play an integral role in explaining the breadth of Carter’s nine decade career. This updated DVD version features a bonus photo gallery with enhanced biography.