Two Music Legends Pass Away At Age 95

Compay Segundo, one of Cuba’s oldest “troubadours” and charming frontman for the Buena Vista Social Club group, died this morning (July 14) in Havana. He was 95

Segundo shot to international fame with the 1997 Grammy Award-winning recording “Buena Vista Social Club” produced with the collaboration of American guitarist Ry Cooder. The record brought back into the limelight a group of talented musicians who had all but been forgotten in Cuba, including Segundo, pianist Ruben Gonzalez, and singers Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo.

Legendary jazz pioneer and big band leader Benny Carter, who helped break Hollywood’s bar to black composers, died Saturday in Los Angeles, he was 95. Carter, who was one of the first black composers and arrangers to work on mainstream Hollywood films, including such classics as “Stormy Weather,” had been hospitalized for about two weeks, complaining of bronchitis and fatigue, said family friend Virginia Wicks.

In a career that spanned seven decades, Carter played with such jazz luminaries as pianist Willie “The Lion” Smith, Fats Waller, Miles Davis and Dizzie Gillespie. He is also credited with launching Ella Fitzgerald’s career by introducing her to bandleader Chick Webb. Carter’s compositions, including “Blues in My Heart” and “When Lights Are Low,” have become jazz standards.

A largely self-taught musician, Carter established the swing-era, big band sound through ensemble compositions for the Fletcher Henderson orchestra and later his own band.


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