Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Reentry With Benny

I want to thank Jeff for holding down the fort. As always, his posts were nothing short of fab.

I need a day to get reacquainted with my surroundings, but in the meantime, have a listen to "Airmail Special," featuring the great Benny Goodman Quartet of Teddy Wilson on piano, Lionel Hampton on vibes, Gene Krupa on drums and Goodman on clarinet, backing up Charlie Christian on guitar.

I've had this song in my head since Sunday evening after seeing Jason Marsalis and his band recreate some of the best performances of this classic 1930's lineup. As Marsalis put it, so many think of Benny Goodman as this commercial lightweight who somehow got christened "The King Of Swing." This is usually based on a handful of big band recordings that became pop standards. But few realize that this particular quartet was not only one of the first (or maybe "the" first) integrated bands of the 30's (which was illegal back then), but was a band that cooked with the best of them.

Marsalis and his band, which featured Joel Goldberg playing Benny's part and Marsails, a drummer, playing Hamp's part on vibes, knocked me out. It's unlikely that this unit will ever make it out of New Orleans, which is unfortunate. But at least you can explore more of the original quartet's recordings, if you dig this.


whattawino said...

Welcome back, you Lucky Dog...The Ponderosa Stomp sounded like it was killer this year. WFMU/WWOZ in a simulcast "first",
last Saturday afternoon broadcast live from the AC Hotel in New Orleans. If you weren't lucky enough to be there (like you, mister), you got to catch some fun and flavor of this one-of-a-kind event. Here's the link:


Charlie Carr said...

The small combos are definitely where it's at. The trio, quartet and sextet are right there, spot on - delicate acoustic jazz. Huge chops in all those groups. That sounds like the highlight of the trip! Who played the Christian parts - or was there even a guitarist? You gotta hear Phil Schaap riff on how Goodman scooped baseball on the integrated bandstand thing by over a decade! It's an earful . . . but worth it. I will always admire Goodman for that. I think the reverence for the Carnegie Hall big band gig also helps to overshadow Goodman's other stuff . . .
I saw Jason at Donna's on vibes with a pick-up band - actually you had suggested the club for another performer who got snowed in at Chicago airport. (Shannon Powell?) Thanks for the tunes.
@whattawino - I was listening to the Downtown Soulville podcast and he mentioned the broadcast, but I was a day late . . . Mr. Fine Wine calls it the best music fest there is. Period.

A walk in the woods said...

Damn, that's a great song! I'm hip to Charlie Christian but had never noticed that song before.

Sure wish I could have caught the Ponderosa Stomp set by Jason Marsalis...

Bill said...

I've always loved the Sextet's take on These Foolish Things: