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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Jack Ashby




Crotchet
Budget price

BENNY GOODMAN

‘The Legendary Small Groups’

RCA Bluebird 090266 39942 0

 


Benny Goodman Trio – Benny Goodman, Clarinet – Teddy Wilson, Piano – Gene Krupa, Drums

Benny Goodman Quartet – Benny Goodman, Clarinet – Teddy Wilson, Piano – Lionel Hampton, Vibraphone – Gene Krupa, Drums except on Track 14 when Dave Tough plays.

1

After You’ve Gone (Trio)

8

Whispering

2

Body and Soul (Trio)

9

Runnin’ Wild

3

China Boy (Trio)

10

Avalon

4

Moonglow

11

Where or When (Trio)

5

Dinah

12

I’m a Ding Dong Daddy (from Dumas)

6

Sweet Sue

13

The Blues in Your Flat

7

Stompin’ at the Savoy

14

Dizzy Spells

With the mass of collectable material being produced featuring present day jazz stars it is easy to ignore the earlier recordings on which many jazz fans were weaned. As the swing era progressed it engendered the formation of small groups within the ‘modern’ setting – none more popular than those led by Benny Goodman in the 1930s. The ‘Trio’ was formed in 1935 and ‘Quartet’ in late 1936. At that time nobody, including Artie Shaw, could compare with Goodman’s unbelievable technique and the recordings enjoyed immense popularity.

Although Goodman had used Teddy Wilson on earlier recordings with his band it wasn’t until they played together in an impromptu trio that Benny became aware of Wilson’s great potential. "Teddy and I began to play as though we were thinking with the same brain," was how he described that session. "It was a real kick." Within a month they were in the recording studio.

Tracks 1 & 3 to some extent confirm Goodman’s comments and with Krupa’s strict tempo both numbers move along at pace. ‘Body and Soul’ is one of the most popular tunes from the period and whilst the trio treat it with respect I feel that there is far greater appeal when it is played on saxophone where it can receive more expressive treatment. ‘Where or When’ with Goodman staying on the melody gives Wilson the opportunity to show his recognised talent as an accompanist. His solo is one of the best on the disc.

The quartet is far more appealing and adventurous than the trio. All their tracks show just how well these musicians worked together - weaving around the melody and chords with added quotes and breaks as they got into the mood of things. They were renowned for their clever and intricate introductions and there is no greater evidence of this than on ‘Runnin’ Wild’ and ‘I’m a Ding Dong Daddy.’ Having said that I find the most involved and exciting piece is ‘Dizzy Spells.’ Dave Tough’s crisp brushwork lays down a presto tempo whilst the other three excel themselves in both instrumental technique and ad lib soloing.

Overall Goodman and his musicians give more than a satisfactory account of themselves and the disc is recommended.

Jack Ashby



 



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