“The Music Never Stops” is a beautiful piece of unheard history: an archival recording of a concert headlined by the late, great vocalist Betty Carter. Recorded in 1992, the show was a centerpiece of one of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s earliest seasons. Carter titled the singular show “The Music Never Stops,” because, well, the music never really stopped. She assembled three trios, a big band, and a string section on the stage and darted back and forth between the different ensembles, transitioning seamlessly and effortlessly between burning be-bop and deeply felt ballads, wearing out the musicians with her stamina.
The album highlights the legendary Carter’s many talents: her effortless way with a melody, her endlessly inventive improvisations, and her unparalleled ability to build both a narrative and a mood by spontaneously weaving jazz standards and her own genius material together. But this concert wasn’t just another night for Carter, and the record also features contributions from some of the best contemporary jazz instrumentalists working in NYC. The music contained everything one would anticipate from Carter: mesmerizing balladry, exhilarating swing, impeccable lyricism, stunning improvisation, and brilliantly constructed song-stories that are still visionary today.