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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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Benny Goodman Big Band 1957-64 – The Yale University Archives: Volume 2

Benny Goodman and his Orchestra
rec. 1957-64
NIMBUS NI 2714-15 [64:50 + 52:10]

 

 

 

Let's Dance
Bugle Call Rag
On the Sunny Side of the Street
'Deed I Do
Who Cares
Blue Skies
I Want a Little Girl
Sometimes I'm Happy
A Fine Romance
Harvard Blues
I'm Coming Virginia
Soon
Medley;I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues/I Hadn't Anyone Till You/I've Got You Under My Skin
Pennies From Heaven
Stompin' At the Savoy
Flying Home
This is My Lucky Day
Roll 'Em
Brussels Blues
When You're Smiling.
Happy Session Blues
Autumn Nocturne
Oh Baby
What a Diff'rence a Day Made
Oh Gee, Oh Joy
The Earl
More Than You Know
You Couldn't Be Cuter
I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face
Swift As the Wind
Them There Eyes
A Room Without Windows
People
Benny Rides Again

 

These sides span the years 1957-64 but concentrate in particular on 1957 and 1958. They feature recordings made by some top flight players and in amongst them are some real high flyers. Buster Cooper, Herb Geller, Bob Wilber, Pepper Adams, Milt Hinton and Shelley Manne for example are in one of the November 1958 bands and the trumpet section of the July 1958 band makes one’s eyes pop so stellar is the line-up: Billy Butterfield, Taft Jordan and Buck Clayton – which is pretty nearly my idea of Heaven. Add a rhythm section of Kenny Burrell, Roland Hanna, Henry Grimes and Roy Burnes and you’re not exactly suffering.  The varied personnel  - from big band to small group is one of the pleasures of this 2 CD set from the Yale University Archives – and when one adds that Zoot Sims is on board and Jimmy Rushing takes some vocal responsibilities then we have a compelling package.

Hanna and Rushing spark On the Sunny Side of the Street with the former’s powerful chording a bonus. Goodman excels in a strong blues chorus on I Want A Little Girl. Rushing duets with fellow vocalist Ethel Ennis on A Fine Romance maybe doffing the hat at Ella and Louis’s similar forays; certainly the medley that Ennis sings later on which includes I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues, I Hadn't Anyone Till You, and I've Got You Under My Skin is very reminiscent of Fitzgerald. Aficionados might like to note that This is My Lucky Day is a Gil Evans arrangement. The nonet of which Sims is part – so too are Gene Allen, Willie Dennis et al – is unusual in Goodman’s discography but provides plenty of pleasures from leader and sidemen.

The big band on the second disc is cut from a somewhat different cloth – it’s more steeped in bop for one thing. It’s a shame that the terrific Russ Freeman’s piano solo is so distant in the mix on Happy Session Blues but we can enjoy the very different approach from the leader here – his trills and phrasing offer a rather different stylistic approach from the days of the King of Swing. Another of the advantages of these tracks is the bristling trumpet playing of Allen Smith. Martha Tilton and Mitzi Cottle are two vocalists who shine in this second disc, though the discography doesn’t mention them – fortunately Loren Schoenberg’s notes do.

I wish the Tilton tracks had been in order and the layout a bit clearer; some might not like the way the tracks jump around bisecting small and big groups in something of a blancmange effect. The music’s good though – not vintage but questing, not stuck in a rut.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Don Mather



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