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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

BENNY GOODMAN
SING ME A SWING SONG

Swing Favourites 1935 - 1936
Benny Goodman and His Orchestra with vocals by Helen Ward and Ella Fitzgerald
NAXOS JAZZ LEGENDS 8.120548

Crotchet  



1. Blue Skies
2. Dear Old Southland
3. King Porter Stomp
4. Ballad In Blue
5. Christopher Columbus
6. The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
7. Madhouse
8. If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight
9. Stompin' At The Savoy
10. There's A Small Hotel
11. Swingtime In The Rockies
12. Pick Yourself Up
13. Always
14. In A Sentimental Mood
15. Sing Me A Swing Song
16. Alexander's Ragtime Band
17. St. Louis Blues
18. Love Me Or Leave Me
19. House Hop
20. Goodnight, My Love


This release documents the Goodman band from June 1935 when it was about to embark on a nationwide tour, the outcome of which would establish it as one of the most significant and popular groups of the time and would herald the birth of the "Swing" era. At this point in his career Benny Goodman had been in the music business for over ten years, his first important job being with the Ben Pollack band in 1925 when he was sixteen years of age.
By 1935 Goodman was a mature soloist and had certainly established himself as one of the premier exponents of his chosen instrument. There has never been any doubting Goodman's standing as an improvising jazz clarinettist ( although some fans preferred the technical side of Artie Shaw's playing ) and this ability is amply illustrated throughout these selections. Much in evidence is his fluent legato style, clear yet powerful tone and seemingly effortless control in all registers of the instrument. His links to earlier players such as Jimmy Noone and the other New Orleans clarinet players he had heard in Chicago in his youth are still clearly audible.
Some of the arrangements here are by the great Fletcher Henderson who was drafted in by manager/promoter John Hammond to give the band a more driving, positive style as opposed to the sweeter sounds favoured by many of the white orchestras at this time. Notable amongst these are " King Porter Stomp" and " Dear Old Southland " which use devices such as call and response and polyphony which are reminiscent of the smaller New Orleans/Chicago ensembles.The selections on this disc would be quite representative of the band's repertoire at the time, including arrangements on standards, swing type numbers and vocal features. The singers here are the delightful Helen Ward and Ella Fitzgerald ( " Goodnight My Love " - one of the outstanding tracks on this compilation ).
Goodman apart, the band boasted a roster of star, or soon to become star players, including Ziggy Elman, Pee Wee Erwin and Bunny Berigan on trumpets, Jack Teagarden on trombone, Toots Mondello and Vido Musso on saxophones and a hard swinging rhythm section that had Jess Stacy on piano and, the real driving force behind the band, Gene Krupa on drums.
All the selections are of a high quality in terms of performance and content and this is a very good release whether it be for the Big Band fan, the swing enthusiast or the newcomer to the music of Benny Goodman.

Dick Stafford

D.S. is a professional reed player and teacher living in Coventry.




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