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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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BENNY GOODMAN

Yale University Archives vol.4:
Florida Sessions 1959;
Hollywood & New York 1958-61;
Original Benny Goodman Quartet 1963

Nimbus NI 2731/3

[3 CDs: 50:50 + 54:24 + 52:50]

 

 


CD 1
1. Sleep
2. Sometimes I'm Happy
3. Rosetta
4. Dark Shadows
5. Tea For Two
6. Deacon And The Elder
7. I Want To Be Happy
8. Someone To Watch Over Me
9. Ten-Bone
10. Sweet Miss
11. Time On My Hands
12. Splanky
13. The Best Thing For You

CD 2
1. It's All Right With Me
2. Willow Weep For Me
3. My Little Grass Shack
4. Too Many Tears
5. Easy To Love
6. Who?
7. Sweet Leilani
8. Song of the Islands
9. The Moon of Manakoora
10. On the Beach at Waikiki
11. Blue Hawaii
12. Bei Mir Bist Du Schon
13. Gershwin Medley
14. Rodgers and Hart Medley

CD 3
1. Dearest
2. Together
3. Who Cares?
4. September Song
5. Just One of Those Things
6. Love Sends a Little Gift
7. Oh, Gee! Oh, Joy!
8. Bernie's Tune
9. East of the Sun
10. Four Once More
11. Liza
12. But Not For Me
13. Somebody Loves Me
14. It's All Right With Me

Benny Goodman (clarinet) with
CD 1 - Flip Phillips (tenor saxophone); Bill Harris (trombone); Marty Harris (piano); Leo Robinson (guitar); Al Simi (bass) and Bob Binnix (drums)
CD 2 – Bands featuring amongst others; Zoot Sims (tenor saxophone); André Previn (piano); Mel Powell (piano)
CD 3 – Teddy Wilson (piano); Lionel Hampton (vibes); Gene Krupa (drums)

 

This 3 CD set is volume four in the Goodman Yale University Archives series. Each disc pursues a different agenda. The first is devoted to the August 1959 sessions in Miami in which Goodman joined Flip Phillips and Bill Harris in a three man front line. The second disc traces Hollywood and New York sessions during 1959 and 1961 in a variety of settings and with an interesting array of collaborators. The final disc concerns itself with the 1963 reunion of the BG Quartet and all that that entailed.

The first disc features thirteen outstanding selections. Apparently Phillips had a calming effect on Goodman, and with Harris’s adroit musicianship and a good rhythm section the music making was sophisticated, and unflaggingly enjoyable. The charts are full of simple but effective ploys – breaks, backings, harmonies, tempo decisions, and they all coincide in this marvellous session. Sleep gets a rather Benny Carter inspired arrangement and with Phillips’s Lester Young influenced tone to the fore in such as Dark Shadows we are assured of some plangent soloing. It’s good to hear the Nat Adderley gospel swinger Deacon and the Elder. The element of ‘Old Wine, New Bottles’ certainly infiltrates I Want To Be Happy with its Goodman stop chorus, just as the Ellington small band ethos permeates Flip Phillips’s Ten-Bone. Here the jump-band, riff-based melos works like a dream. Goodman’s angular but finely swinging playing illuminates Sweet Miss and Basie-itis is at a premium in Neal Hefti’s Splanky. The booming bass of Al Simi, and the fine conversational Phillips and Harris solos are allied to Goodman’s lower register work, Noone-like when soaring. This is a terrifically impressive date.

The 1958-61 tracks that inhabit the second disc offer other, though perhaps less consistent pleasures. André Previn can be heard in three tracks, though briefly in solo, albeit Barney Kessel takes a good solo in Who. Other tracks team Goodman with his old colleague Lou McGarity and newer colleagues such as Bernie Privin and Toots Mondello, and Zoot Sims. Privin’s big fat tone can be heard to advantage in My Little Grass Shack. Goodman refused to allow the Hawaiian tracks to be issued, though they’re not so bad. Better of course is the reprise of his glory days in the shape of Bei Mir Bist Du Schon with the still youthful sounding Martha Tilton. To end we have the superior trio sound of Goodman, pianist Mel Powell and drummer Roy Burnes in a series of medleys. Powell was always a stimulating companion and the threesome cooked up some neat tempo changes in these Gershwin and Rodgers and Hart evergreens.

The trio sides lead on nicely to the last disc, which reunites the famous BG Quartet for a series of 1963 recordings. This was the only such time they reunited. I happen to find Krupa’s bass drum somewhat annoying but compensations are there in profusion. Wilson is impeccable and swinging, as ever – his playing in Together is a particular delight – and Hampton is a tower of strength, not least on September Song. Goodman laps this all up and his fluid, flexibly metered playing on Just One of Those Things shows him in lyrically unfettered form, though I’m not keen on the fade out ending. There is some larking about on Four Once More in which Wilson sets up a Boogie rhythm but the whole thing breaks down – an interesting rehearsal snippet amidst the other finished songs.

It ends a three CD of variety, interest and enjoyment.

Jonathan Woolf

 

See and additional review by Don Mather.



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