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



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BENNY GOODMAN

Yale University Archives: Volume 3

Nimbus NI 2723-24

[64:02 + 74:18]

 

 

    CD 1
    Live At The Rainbow Grill: 1966 and 1967
  1. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
  2. I guess I'll have to change my plans
  3. There is no greater love
  4. Don't be that way
  5. Oh lady be good!
  6. Come rain or come shine
  7. St Louis Blues
  8. All the things you are
  9. I've found a new baby
  10. Avalon
  11. Embraceable You
  12. Sweet Georgia Brown
  13. Look for the silver lining
  14. By Myself
  15. Honeysuckle Rose
    CD 2
    Live At Basin Street - 1954
  1. After you've gone
  2. Body and Soul
  3. Nice Work if you can get it
  4. The world is waiting for the sunrise
  5. Avalon
  6. Dark Eyes
  7. Don't be that way
  8. How high the moon
  9. One o'clock jump
  10. I've found a new baby
  11. On the sunny side of the street
  12. Runnin' Wild
  13. Liza
  14. Exactly like you
  15. Someday Sweetheart
  16. China Boy
  17. Piano Interlude
  18. Our love is here to stay
  19. That's a-plenty

Rainbow Grill 1967: Joe Newman (trumpet); Zoot Sims (tenor); Benny Goodman (clarinet); Bernie Leighton (piano); George Duvivier (bass); Joe Marshall (drums)

Rainbow Grill 1966: Doc Cheatham (trumpet); Benny Goodman (clarinet); Herbie Hancock (piano); Les Spann (guitar); Al Hall (bass); Morey Feld (drums); Annette Saunders (vocals)

Basin Street 1954: Charlie Shavers (trumpet); Benny Goodman (clarinet); Mel Powell (piano); Steve Jordan (guitar); Israel Crosby (bass); Morey Feld (drums)

rec. 1954, 1966-67


Volume 3 of the Yale University Archives appears newly minted on Nimbus courtesy of MusicMasters' back catalogue. It preserves small band concerts at the Rainbow Grill in 1966 and 1967 and, on disc two, a 1954 set live at Basin Street.

The tunes won't rock the boat, as they're all very familiar. In fact the very unadventurousness of them casts an almost hypnotic spell - contrast what Goodman's coeval Artie Shaw was doing at the time of the Basin Street gig and you'll understand how mired the King of Swing was in the good old good ones. The 1966 set strikes me as dull. The band is so-so, and even with Joe Newman and Zoot Sims things never really take flight. Newman has a feature on There is No Greater Love and he plays well and so does Sims in his feature, Come rain or come shine, which is Blues and Lester Young drenched. And the leader stretches out purposefully on Oh Lady be good! and indeed he plays marvellously here. Otherwise, a mixed bag.

The set from the following year is much better. Unlikely though it seems Herbie Hancock was pianist, depping for Hank Jones, and joining Goodman in the front line was the eloquent trumpeter Doc Cheatham. The rhythm section is much more fluent and advanced even if Hancock's harmonies sometimes jar when set behind the leader's playing. Still, fans of Cheatham can hear his pumped up on the beat soloing on Sweet Georgia Brown where Goodman himself is inspired to Frank Teschmacher-like flights of excitement and timbre shading. Annette Saunders takes a couple of competent vocals. The only demerit is the balance; the drums of Morey Feld are badly over-recorded.

The Basin Street evening dived between the trio - Goodman, Mel Powell and Morey Feld - and the rest of the band which then included Charlie Shavers. With Powell on board things are terrific. His playing flits between the shade of Teddy Wilson and those ravishing, piquant harmonies that were so challenging and classically infused; a jazz-classicist such as Goodman could not but be inspired by the harmonic directions in which he was being led by Powell. Of course the trio also summons up the Goodman-Wilson-Krupa threesome but there's a sense of vitality and also humour that is pleasing; the subtlety of such playing should never be underestimated. Nor too those naughty moments when Powell unleashes little cameos of Erroll Garner or Fats Waller in his playing. Shavers appears briefly but always entertainingly. Israel Crosby is the excellent bass player.

The MusicMasters notes should have been updated. Neophytes would otherwise be startled to read that Doc Cheatham (b.1905) is still pumping it out at one hundred and four. Alas he died in 1997. There are ups and downs in these sets. Demerits are hackneyed old tunes; pluses are the pianists and trumpeters - and Goodman himself.

 

Jonathan Woolf  



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