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Benny Carter, Compay Segundo & Buster Smith Die

A pair of 95-year-olds who broke down barriers in their respective genres and a 71-year-old drummer who played for more than a decade with Sun Ra’s Arkestra have died.

Saxophonist Benny Carter (pictured), who helped pioneer the big-band sound in the 1930s and in the 1940s was one of the first African-Americans to compose and arrange for film, checked into a hospital two weeks ago after feeling fatigued and fighting bronchitis. He died Saturday, July 12, at Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. As Carter protégé Quincy Jones told the Associated Press, “A big, big person walked out of the room yesterday.”
Compay Segundo, one of the primary faces of the worldwide Cuban phenomenon known as the Buena Vista Social Club, died of kidney failure at his home in Miramar, Havana, on Sunday, July 13. The guitarist and singer continued to give concerts up through May before his health began to deteriorate.

Earl “Buster” Smith, who kept time for the Arkestra from 1986 to 1995, died Monday, July 7. His cause of death was not listed in the Bergen Record, which published Smith’s death notice.

Originally Published