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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Three Classic Albums Plus

Avid AMSC 1004



1. Let's Dance
2. Don't Be That Way
3. Hallelujah
4. Obsession
5. Brussels Blues
6. More Than You Know
7. The World is Waiting for the Sunrise
8. Jubilee
9. Roll `Em
10. Stealin' Apples
11. Memories of You
12. Balkan Mixed Grill
13. Gershwin Medley: The Man I Love / Oh, Lady Be Good / Somebody Loves Me / I Got Rhythm
14. St. Louis Blues
15. Mr. Five By Five
16. March of the Belgian Paratroops
17. One O' Clock Jump
18. Goodbye
19. Balkan Mixed Grill
20. Avalon

1. Poor Butterfly
2. You're Driving Me Crazy
3. Bugle Call Rag
4. Mean to Me
5. King Porter Stomp
6. Sing Sing Sing (Part One)
7. Sing Sing Sing (Part Two)
8. The King and Me (from The Playboy Jazz All Stars Vol. 2)
9. Back in Your Own Backyard (from session of 25th February 1958)
10. Swing Into Spring (from session of 25th February 1958)
11. Bugle Call Rag
12. King Porter Stomp
13. Sing Sing Sing (Part One)
14. Sing Sing Sing (Part Two)
15. Jumpin' at the Woodside
16. Loch Lomond
17. East Side, West Side
18. The World is Waiting for the Sunrise
19. Interview with Benny Goodman from 1949 London Radio Broadcasts
20. After You've Gone


Benny Goodman came to fame as the King of Swing in the 1930s but he continued playing into the 1980s. The albums gathered together here date mainly from 1958, two years after the film The Benny Goodman Story enabled Goodman to re-form his big band and go on tours sponsored by the American State Department and others. Two of the LPs on this double album (Benny in Brussels, Vols. 1 and 2) were recorded in Brussels on Benny's 1958 tour, while the album Plays World Favourites in High Fidelity was also recorded in 1958. These are augmented by ten more 1958 recordings from various sources, and the last three tracks are from 1949. The personnels are so varied and difficult to decipher in Avid's small print that I have refrained from listing them.

By this time, Goodman was mainly content to rest on his laurels, reproducing his old favourites like Stealin' Apples, Memories of You and Avalon. Sometimes this meant that it sounded as if Benny was treading water, and his tone was certainly thinner than in his earlier days. And reruns of tunes like Sing Sing Sing could hardly match the excitement they aroused when heard at that famous Carnegie Hall concert 20 years before.

Scattered among the oldies are some oddities like the exotic Balkan Mixed Grill (which, like several other tracks, occurs twice) and March of the Belgian Paratroops. And the big-band tracks are interspersed with small-group tracks, where one misses the lift that a vibes-player might have given the quartet.

On the other hand, the groups that Goodman assembled contained many fine musicians, such as Zoot Sims, Buddy Tate, Buck Clayton and Taft Jordan. A promising young pianist called Roland Hanna made his big-band debut on the Brussels sessions, and is heard to advantage on such items as Hallelujah and The World is Waiting for the Sunrise. Unfortunately, the sleeve-notes don't help to identify the soloists, but the music is usually played satisfactorily by these top-class musicians.

A special guest for the Brussels concerts was singer Jimmy Rushing, who adds his bluesy vocals to Brussels Blues and Mr Five By Five. The last three tracks on the second CD were recorded in London in 1949, with a dextrous pianist named Buddy Greco on tracks 18 and 20. Track 19 is an interview with Benny by a very British-accented presenter, leading into a performance of After You've Gone which includes a harmonica solo from Toots Thielemans.

This double CD is a bargain but it is a rather mixed bag, with BG still playing well but not up to his old standards, leading bands which somehow lacked the integration of his best groups.

Tony Augarde

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