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Benny Goodman



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(L to R):  Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa

       Benny Goodman made jazz history in August of 1935.   His orchestra was on tour in California and it had been a disaster.  Goodman, in a devil-take-the-hindsight mood, kicked off his show that evening in Pasadena with one of his hottest numbers.  Instead of dancing, the crowd gathered around the stage.   From that moment on, Goodman became the "King of Swing" and an international celebrity.

        Goodman formed his group in 1934 and used chiefly arrangements of Fletcher Henderson.  His orchestra featured such superstars as Gene Krupa and Harry James, and Goodman broke the color barrier in jazz by hiring Teddy Wilson, Cootie Williams, Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday, and Charlie Christian.  Goodman's technique was seldom flashy, but his solos were full of grace, taste, and good timing.

        In the 1940s, he experimented with BeBop, decided he didn't like it, and formed small group combos (such as one pictured above).   In 1962, the U.S. State Department sent him to Russia with a band of mostly British musicians.  He revived the old Henderson tunes and made them sound as good as they did in the 1930s. 

        Goodman was known as a disciplinarian as a band leader, but his groups maintained the highest standards.  Goodman died in 1986.

For more Benny Goodman information, check out this site:

Benny Goodman - A fan's tribute.

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