JJ 08/83: Betty Carter – Whatever Happened To Love?

Forty years ago, Derrick Stewart-Baxter praised Carter's ability to transform trite pop songs into minor master­pieces. First published in Jazz Journal August 1983


Betty Carter is a quite remarkable musician and singer. Not only is she thoroughly schooled, but she has an incredibly fertile musical mind and she has an amazing ability to transform trite pop songs into minor master­pieces. There is a splendid example on the very first track, What A Little Moonlight Can Do. Betty does more than just transform this song – she gives us an entirely new composition.

There is not space to go into all the tracks – most of them splendid, although I could do without all the scatting on With No Words. I must mention Betty Carter’s experiment with the blues New Blues, a contem­plative venture into blues territory, but it is not like any blues you have ever heard, and I doubt if traditional blues buffs will approve! Never mind, this is wonderful music and I feel sorry for those who cannot dig deep into what this lady is doing. She will not, I fear, appeal to the purists among our readers, and this is their loss.

For me Betty Carter is a very won­derful singer-musician and a very special person.

What A Little Moonlight Can Do; Cocktails For Two; Social Call; Goodbye; With No Words (28.30) – New Blues; I Cry Alone; Abre La Puenta; Everytime We Say Goodbye (22.25)
Betty Carter (v); Kahlid Moss (pi; Curtis Lundy (b); Lewis Nash (d), plus 15 strings and unknown alto. Recorded at The Bottom Line Club, NYC, 1982.
(Betty Carter MK 1004)