Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nickname #29 -- September 19, 2013

Benny Goodman, the King of Swing, grew up in Chicago, where he listened to jazz musicians who had emigrated from New Orleans and learned to play the clarinet.  He made his professional debut before he started high school.  He played with Bix Beiderbecke and other jazz pioneers.  He moved to New York and played for many bands and in many recording sessions.  When he formed a big band, he hired bandleader Fletcher Henderson to do his arrangements.  His quartet was integrated.  The big band and the small groups became great successes.  They played a concert at Carnegie Hall.  I love the recording of "Sing Sing Sing" from the concert, with Gene Krupa, Harry James and Jess Stacy.  The small groups, with Teddy Wildon, Lionel Hampton and later Charlie Christian, were pioneering examples of mixed-race groups.  Many of his musicians resented his strictness as a band leader and his use of the Death Ray, a nasty look, but his bands were always good. 

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