AVAILABLE NOW: Betty Carter’s “The Music Never Stops”
Available Now In Stores, Online, and Streaming
Blue Engine Records Releases
Betty Carter’s The Music Never Stops
Never Before Released Live Recording of Betty Carter
Performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center in 1992
“Betty Carter was jazz’s quintessential modernist.”
— The New York Times
“Pure gold. Exhilarating. Historical perspective
set in proper context.” — Columbia Daily Tribune
Blue Engine Records has released some of the earliest material ever recorded by Jazz at Lincoln Center–jazz trailblazer and vocalist Betty Carter’s The Music Never Stops. This live performance at New York’s Aaron Davis Hall was recorded in 1992, six years before Carter’s untimely passing and during the early days of Jazz at Lincoln Center. The Music Never Stops, released 27 years to the date after the historic performance, marks Carter’s first posthumous album as well as the artist’s first release composed entirely of previously unheard material in 22 years (the last being “I’m Yours, You’re Mine” in 1997).
The long-running debate over what defines a jazz singer simply dissolves when Betty Carter’s name comes up. She transcended the entire category and took her place in the music pantheon as one of jazz’s most profound and game-changing innovators. Her impact was pervasive: not only did she influence a wide range of artists with her music, but the “University of Betty Carter” stands alongside Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers as one of the jazz world’s elite finishing schools, training many of today’s most acclaimed jazz artists.
Carter challenged herself throughout her entire career, but the concert captured on The Music Never Stops represents perhaps the pinnacle of her musical ambitions. Harnessing a full jazz orchestra, a string section, and three distinct piano trios, Carter delivered a stunning tour-de-force performance that until now only lived in the memories of the enthralled and highly responsive audience members who were fortunate enough to have been there.
The orchestra Carter enlisted include such stalwarts as Robin Eubanks, Art Baron, Jerry Dodgion,Alex Foster, and Lew Soloff. Pianists John Hicks, Geri Allen, and Cyrus Chestnut; bassists Lisle Atkinson and Ariel Roland; and drummers Kenny Washington, Greg Hutchinson, and Clarence Penn filled out the three swinging rhythm sections. Many of the participants were Carter’s former students, and all of the rhythm section players were members of her various trios.
Betty Carter’s magnificent performance was a massive and ambitious undertaking. The Music Never Stops proved to be an apt title, as over the course of two hours it never did. She darted back and forth between the different ensembles, transitioning seamlessly and effortlessly between burning bebop and deeply felt ballads, wearing out the musicians with her stamina. The album highlights the legendary Carter’s many talents: mesmerizing balladry, exhilarating swing, impeccable lyricism, stunning improvisation, and her unparalleled ability to build both a narrative and a mood by spontaneously weaving jazz standards and her own genius material together. For example, a 16-minute medley of what Carter calls “question songs”—“Why Him?,” “Where or When,” and “What’s New?”—takes three seemingly disparate standards and crafts a seamless, epic narrative of love found, lost, and (maybe) found again. Carter’s originals like “30 Years” and “Make Him Believe” offer up inventive and unsparing treatments of modern love, challenging gender norms and constructing narrative tapestries in a way that’s still visionary today.