Tuesday, September 30, 2014

James Reese Europe: Hellfighter

James Reese Europe was one of the earliest figures of jazz music. He was a great bandleader and an inspiration to African-Americans in the early years of the last century. Europe was the leader of Europe’s Society Orchestra that first recorded in 1913. That orchestra ostensibly played ragtime music, the forerunner of jazz; however, Europe’s orchestra played a highly- improvised version of ragtime which could easily be classified as jazz. Europe took ragtime music and speeded it up considerably, making it a frenetic and highly infectious and danceable music.

Europe was the first African-American bandleader to ever make a commercial recording and in 1914, Europe and the Society Orchestra recorded Castle’s Lame Duck” and “Castle House Rag” for the Victor label.

During World War One, Europe was enlisted in the U.S, army as a lieutenant with the African-American 369th Infantry Regiment that was dubbed the “Harlem Hellcats.” Europe also directed the regimental band and with them made recordings for the Pathe brothers while stationed in France. Europe and the band also performed concerts, making a hit of the number, “Memphis Blues.”

Shortly after returning to America at the conclusion of the war, Europe was stabbed in the neck with a pen by one of his drummers during the intermission of a concert in Boston. Europe succumbed to the wound, and became the first African-American citizen to be honoured with a public funeral in New York City.

James Reese Europe and Hellfighters Band

Monday, September 29, 2014

Johnny Dodds: Clarinet Wobble

Clarinettist Johnny Dodds was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1892. Johnny Dodds was one of the greatest jazz clarinetists of the Twenties and he possessed a very soulful and emotional style of playing. Dodds and Louis Armstrong complimented each other perfectly when the two musicians worked together in King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band and later in Armstrong’s Hot Five and Seven recording bands.

Dodds played in many of the leading jazz bands of the classic jazz era. Dodds played in Kid Ory’s band in New Orleans from 1912 to 1919, and like Armstrong, he played on riverboats with Fate Marable before moving to Chicago in 1921 to play with King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. Dodds also lent his fine clarinet chops to Jelly Roll Morton’s band, The Red Hot Peppers. Dodds appeared on most of Armstrong’s classic Hot Five recordings and recorded numerous excellent sides under his own during the Twenties.

The best of Dodds’ solo recordings include, “Clarinet Wobble,” “Wild Man Blues,” and “Piggly Wiggly.” Dodds continued to play and record in Chicago throughout the Thirties, and also ran a taxi cab company with his brother, drummer Baby Dodds, until his death in 1940.

 The 2009 compilation, “The Complete Johnny Dodds,” is the best collection of his works. Dodds is also included on “The Chronological Classics: Johnny Dodds” series from 1991/1992.

Johnny Doods (third from right) with the Fate Marable  Band

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fairport Convention: Who Knows Where the Time Goes

During the late Sixties and early Seventies, Fairport Convention was sort of a British answer to the Band. Like the Band, they were a rock band that infused its music with the folk music sounds of their homeland. In the case of Fairport Convention, that music was the traditional folk music of the British Isles.

Fairport Convention’s sound was built around Richard Thompson’s prodigious guitar prowess, Simon Nichol’s guitar and songwriting, and a preference for female lead singers. In the initial incarnation of the band, that singer was Judy Dyble. Her dreamy vocals grace the band’s debut album, “Fairport Convention” (1968), a fine and eclectic psychedelic folk-rock album.

Dyble was replaced by Sandy Denny, who appears on the band’s second album, “What We Did on Our Holidays” (1969). This sophomore effort is one of the jewels in the crown of British folk-rock. Young Richard Thompson's guitar playing is in turns stately and fiery and Sandy Denny's vocals are elegant and expressive. Fairport even pulls off a very Blind Willie Johnson-like performance with “The Lord is in This Place.” “Eastern Rain,” “Fotheringay,” and “I’ll Keep it with Mine” are all standouts tracks from the album.

The band released two more classic albums in 1969, “Unhalfbricking” and “Liege and Lief.” The latter album is widely considered the band’s best and perhaps the greatest British folk-rock album ever recorded. It was certainly the most folk-oriented of the bands’ output thus far, and included outstanding tracks such as “Tam Lin,” Come All Ye,” “Matty Groves,” and “Farewell, Farewell.” 

After providing her voice to Fairport Convention’s triumvirate of classic albums from 1969, Sandy Denny departed and Fairport Convention was left without a female vocalist. Despite the loss, the band turned out yet another fine release, “Full House” (1970). Richard Thompson picks up the slack and begins singing and writing more material. The highlight of the album is the track, “Sloth,” which features a fine guitar/fiddle coda courtesy of Thompson and fiddler Dave Swarbrick.

Fairport Convention has continued up to the present day with Simon Nichol and various supporting band members and is now more of a traditional British folk band whose sound bears little resemblance to the original band.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Johnny Burnette and the Rock ‘n Roll Trio: The Train Kept a-Rollin’

Singer Johnny Burnette was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1934, and was a boyhood friend of Elvis Presley. Burnette and the Rock ‘n Roll Trio is often credited as the “pioneers” of rockabilly music.

The legendary album, “Rock and Roll Trio” (1988), is one of the finest collections of early rock and roll. The album collects the early singles of Burnette and the Trio and contains at least three masterpieces, “The Train Kept a-Rollin’,” “Honey Hush,” and “Lonesome Train.” The title of the song, “Rock Billy Boogie,” is believed to be the origin of the name given to this style of music, “rockabilly.”

Burnette scored pop hits in the Sixties without the Rock and Roll Trio, including “You’re Sixteen,” in 1960, but his best work was during the birth of rock and roll about five years earlier. Burnette died in a boating accident in 1964, at the age of 30.

Dorsey Brothers Orchestra: History and Classic Recordings

Both Dorsey Brothers were major figures in the development of jazz music and especially, swing. Tommy Dorsey is the man who gave a young Frank Sinatra’s burgeoning career a major boost.
Thomas Francis Dorsey Jr. was born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, in 1905. He was the younger brother of Jimmy Dorsey, who was born in Shenandoah the previous year. Both brothers would become huge big band music stars. Both boys studied music as children, with Jimmy playing saxophone, trumpet and clarinet, while Tommy concentrated on   trombone. At Jimmy's recommendation, 15-year-old Tommy replaced Russ Morgan in the Scranton Sirens.
The brothers worked with many bands during the Twenties including a stint with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, before recording their first side “Coquette,” on the Okeh label in 1928. They were signed to Decca Records in 1934, and enjoyed a major hit with “I Believe in Miracles.”

Conflict between the brothers, which at times escalated to fistfights, resulted in Tommy dissolving the partnership and forming his own orchestra in 1935. Teaming up with former members of the Joe Haymes Orchestra, he signed with RCA/Victor in 1935 and released the first in a string of major hits, “On Treasure Island.”

In 1940, Tommy Dorsey acquired Frank Sinatra from The Harry James Orchestra, resulting in more hits and the establishment of Sinatra as a star.

During the Forties, Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra featured some of the best musicians in swing such as Bunny Berigan and Gene Kroupa. Jimmy Dorsey dissolved his own band in 1953, and joined Tommy’s band, with the two becoming “The Dorsey Brothers” once more.

In 1956, Tommy Dorsey died of choking. His former orchestra has continued into the 21st century, with Jimmy Dorsey taking charge until his death, in 1957.

Compilations of the Dorsey Brothers recordings and those of the bands of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey are easily found.

Tommy Dorsey (left) and Jimmy Dorsey

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Joni Mitchell: History and Album Guide

Among the ranks of female singer/songwriters, no woman has equaled the artistry or output of Joni Mitchell. Mitchell’s catalogue includes a slew of classic albums that run the musical gamut from folk to rock to jazz.

Mitchell was born in Fort MacLeod, Alberta, Canada, in 1943. She began her career as folk singer in her native Canada before moving south to Los Angeles to begin her recording career in California. She recorded her debut album, the pleasant folk effort, “Joni Mitchell (AKA Song to a Seagull)” in 1968. Another solid album,” Clouds” would appear the following year.

It was her third release, “Ladies of the Canyon” (1970) that established her as something special. The album was full of well-written story songs which were all presented with stripped-down production featuring just Mitchell on acoustic guitar. The album contained the first of the songs that would make Mitchell famous, “Woodstock,” a song which would become a hit for Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and “Big Yellow Taxi,” which would become a minor hit for Mitchell herself.

Mitchell’s next effort, “Blue” (1971), would be declared her first masterpiece. Blue is an often dark and emotional exorcism on heartbreak, although it is punctuated by lighter moments. “One song here, “This Flight Tonight,” would later become a hit for the Scottish hard rock band, Nazareth.

In 1974, Mitchell recorded another masterpiece, albeit a more upbeat one, “Court and Spark.” The album was critically-acclaimed as were her previous efforts, but this album had commercial legs that would see Mitchell establish herself as something of a pop star. Thanks to a pair of hits, “Help Me” and “Free Man in Paris,” Mitchell’s fame spread into the mainstream of the music-listening public. Another strong track, “Raised on Robbery,” featured the Band’s Robbie Robertson on guitar and received significant airplay.

Mitchell continued to record fine albums throughout the remainder of the Seventies including, “The Hissing of Summer Lawns” (1975), “Hejira” (1976), and collaboration with the legendary jazz bassist and composer, Charles Mingus, “Mingus” (1979).

The Mingus album would see Mitchell delve into jazz for a good part of the Eighties during which she acquired new fans, but lost more of her older fans. She returned to her folkier roots in the Nineties with the release of a couple of decent albums, “Night Ride Home” (1991) and “Taming the Tiger” (1998).

Mitchell continues to record sparingly. After she had announced that she was retiring completely from music, she returned in 2007 with the album, “Shine.”

Joni Mitchell in concert

Monday, September 15, 2014

Black Sabbath: The Majesty of Hard Rock

Black Sabbath is a seminal band in the history of rock music. The band played a brand of hard rock that would tragically spawn much of the regrettable heavy metal/death metal music of recent years. Black Sabbath’s music in their early years, however, was majestic hard rock rooted in the blues and played with skill and precision.

The band, comprised of singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tommy Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward came out of Birmingham, England, in 1968. The band’s first four albums were outstanding efforts and all remain classics of the hard rock genre. The band’s eponymous debut, “Black Sabbath” (1970), was a showcase for the fine guitarist Iommi, and the haunted, intense vocals of Osbourne. The album is spellbinding from start to finish, especially on the title track, “Black Sabbath” and “The Wizard.”

The band’s sophomore release, “Paranoid” (1970), was the equal to the impressive debut and features some progressive rock influences such as the track, “Electric Funeral.” The album’s best known track, “Iron Man,” is probably the weakest track on the album. “Master of Reality” (1971), another classic of the genre, followed next. It contains the classic marijuana anthem, “Sweet Leaf.”

Sabbath next released “Volume 4” (1972), an album that is much more experimental and includes frequent use of synthesizers. The best track here is the ballad, “Changes,” featuring an unforgettable vocal performance by Osbourne.

Black Sabbath would release another decent album, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” (1973), before their descent to heavy metal mediocrity and the eventual departure of Ozzy Osbourne.

Early Black Sabbath shot

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Life, Death, and Music of Bessie Smith

Blues singer Bessie Smith is one of the finest vocalists in the history of American popular music. Her voice was a powerful and versatile instrument that she employed in a variety of musical contexts from deep blues to pop tunes. 

Smith was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1894, and would earn the title of “Empress of the Blues.” As a child, she busked with her brother on the streets of Chattanooga’s African-American neighborhoods to earn extra money for her impoverished family. When her elder brother, Clarence, returned home from a stint with Moses Stokes’s traveling musical troupe in 1912, he informed Bessie that he had arranged an audition for her as a singer with the troupe. Following her audition, Bessie was hired as a dancer because the troupe already had another singer, Ma Rainey, who in later years would become known as the “Mother of the Blues.”

After years of traveling with the Stokes troupe and performing in various chorus lines, Bessie Smith signed a recording contract with Columbia Records and released her first hit, “Downhearted Blues,” in 1923. By the time she had begun recording, Bessie had settled in Philadelphia and had married.

Smith would record 160 sides for Columbia, and she would eventually become the highest paid African-American entertainer of her day. The sidemen for her Columbia recordings included legends of the era such as Louis Armstrong, Joe Smith, Fletcher Henderson, and James P. Johnson. Among Smith’s famous sides from the Twenties are “St. Louis Blues,” “Muddy Water (A Mississippi Moan),” “T’Aint Nobody’s Business,” “You’ve Been a good Old Wagon,” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.”

By the Thirties, the depression had rendered blues recordings unappealing to consumers for financial and aesthetic reasons. Smith’s career declined to the point where she had been reduced to working as a hostess in a Philadelphia speakeasy. It was here, in 1933, that legendary music scout John Hammond found her and convinced her to record again.

Hammond arranged some of the best jazz musicians of the day to back her on recordings which were more in tune with the popular style of swing. Trombonist Jack Teagarden, saxophonist Chu Berry, and pianist Buck Clayton among others accompanied Smith on the sessions which yielded several of her best ever recordings, including “Gimme a Pigfoot,” “Do Your Duty,” and Take Me for a Buggy Ride,”

Smith’s death in 1938 from a car accident near Clarksdale, Mississippi cut her life far too short. For many years, the public had been led to believe that Smith, a black woman, bled to death because she had been denied access to a “whites only” hospital, and Edward Albee had even written a play about it. In fact, she had been brought directly to a black hospital, but died due to severe trauma suffered in the accident.

Smith’s best recordings are her sides with Columbia during the Twenties. Especially notable is a session from 1925 with Louis Armstrong on cornet that yielded “St. Louis Blues” and “Reckless Blues” The pairing of the best blues singer and the best jazz musician supported by the organ of Freddie Longshaw resulted in two of the best sides in the history of jazz and blues.

Any compilation of her music is worth acquiring, and “The Collection” (1989), “The Essential Bessie Smith” (1997) is a good starting point for the uninitiated. In the early Seventies, Columbia Records released a superb four-volume retrospective of her career, “Empty Bed Blues” (1970), “The World’s Greatest Blues Singer” (1970), “Any Woman’s Blues” (1971), and “The Empress” (1971). Another superb set is “The Complete Recordings Volume 1” (1991), “The Complete Recordings Volume 2” (1991), “The Complete Recordings Volume 3” (1992) and “The Complete Recordings Volume 4” (1993).

The Empress of the Blues

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Charlie Parker: Ornithology-The Study of the Bird

Saxophonist Charlie Parker is considered by many to be the best musician in the history of jazz. He is one of the few jazz musicians who could rival the technical brilliance and originality of Louis Armstrong and Art Tatum. Parker’s drug-addicted life and early demise is jazz legend and a tragic example which would be repeated by several jazz musicians who followed him.

Parker was nicknamed “Yardbird” which was eventually shortened to simply, “Bird.” Many of his compositions, including “Yardbrid Suite” and “Ornithology” would be inspired by that nickname.

Parker was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1920. He began to play the saxophone at age 11, and had joined a musician’s union instead of attending high school. He practiced diligently in the late Thirties, and by 1938, he was good enough to join the band of pianist Jay McShann. While in his teens, Parker had become addicted to morphine after being administered the drug in hospital after a car accident. His morphine addiction would lead to a heroin addiction which would contribute to his early death at age 34.

Parker quit the McShann band in 1939, and headed to New York City to begin a solo career. In the early Forties, Parker was experimenting with soloing methods. His experimentation constituted some of the early developments of be-bop music, a subgenre of jazz with which he would forever be linked. He would soon be collaborating with Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Bud Powell, and others. In summer 1945, Parker and his friends recorded “Ko-ko” and other sides at a session for the Savoy label. That session and its recordings would become a watershed moment for bebop music.

By this time, Parker’s heroin addiction was causing him to miss gigs, and he resorted to busking on New York City streets to support his addiction. Parker then moved to Los Angeles where heroin was difficult to find, and he began to drink heavily to compensate. He was often in bad shape at recording sessions and needed, at times, to be physically supported by others. Parker moved back to New York City where he died, in 1955.

The best original albums and collections of Parker’s music include, “Charlie Parker with Strings” (1950), “Charlie Parker with Strings Vol.2” (1950), “Charlie Parker” (1953), “Big Band” (1954), “Summit Meeting at Birdland” (1977), “At Storyville” (1985), “The Genius of Charlie Parker” (1954), “The Charlie Parker Story” (1956), “The Genius of Charlie Parker” (1957), “Anthology” (1974), “Charlie Parker on Dial” (1974), “Bird/The Savoy Recordings (Master Takes)” (1974), “The Very Best of Bird” (1977), “The Complete Studio Savoy Recordings” (1978), “Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve” (1988), “Bird: The Original Recordings of Charlie Parker” (1988), “Masterworks 1946-47” (1990),”Yardbird Suite: The Ultimate Collection” (1997), “The Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings 1944-1948” (2000), “The Essential Charlie Parker” (2004).

Charlie Parker

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bill Monroe: Blue Moon of Kentucky

Bill Monroe is one of the most important figures in the history of country music. He was the man who almost single-handedly invented bluegrass music. He is known as the “Father of Bluegrass,” and the music bears the nickname of his home state, Kentucky, the “Bluegrass State.” Monroe was born in Rosine, Kentucky, in 1913.

Bill Monroe was one of the finest mandolin players in country music, and it was his mastery of that instrument that has made the mandolin a mandatory part of every bluegrass band. Monroe’s love of the blues and gospel music and his high-pitched singing became signature elements of the bluegrass genre and would later become a requirement of the genre.

Bill Monroe and his long time backing band, the “Bluegrass Boys,” recorded songs that are now bluegrass and country music standards such as “New Mule Skinner Blues,” “Heavy Traffic Ahead,” “Uncle Pen,” “In the Pines,” “Working on a Building,” and “I Saw the Light.”

Monroe wrote and was the first to record the classic song, “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” which would later become one of Elvis Presley’s first hits with Sun records during the emergence of rock and roll. In recognition of his influence on early rockers, Monroe was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

Monroe died in Springfield, Kentucky in 1996.

Monroe’s best recordings include the albums, “Knee Deep in Bluegrass” (1958), “Bean Blossom” (1973), “The Essential Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys 1945-1949” (1992), and “The Music of Bill Monroe from 1936 to 1994” (1994).

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Carter Family: The First Family of Country Music

The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers are the two artists most responsible for the early development of the country music industry. Before them, the folk music of the Appalachian region of the United States was folk music played by locals for their own amusement, and it remained a regional art form. The music was casually referred to as just “Hillbilly Music.” The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers were not the first country artists to record, Charlie Poole, Ernest Stoneman, Eck Robertson and others had made recordings before them, but Rodgers and the Carters turned hillbilly music into pop music.

The original Carter Family consisted of the sisters, guitarist Maybelle, and lead singer Sara, and occasional back-up singer A.P., Sara’s husband. The family hailed from Clinch Mountain, Virginia.

The Carter Family first recorded in Bristol, Tennessee for record producer, Ralph Peer, in 1927. They were paid 50 dollars for each song they recorded. Among those songs were, “Wandering Boy” and “Poor Orphan Child” which Victor released as a single in the fall of 1927.

The next year, 1928, saw the Carter Family in the Victor studios in Camden, New Jersey, where they recorded their classics, “Keep on the Sunny Side,” “Can the Circle be Unbroken,” “Wildwood Flower,” “River of Jordan,” and many others. They were not paid for these recordings, but were promised royalties based on sales. By 1930, the Carter Family had sold over 300, 000 records in the United States.

Not only are these recordings historically significant, they are aesthetically pleasing, too. The Carters were a great string band that displayed technical brilliance and perfectly sung harmonies. Mother Maybelle was a brilliant guitarist who invented a guitar picking technique that was adopted by scads of country guitarists in subsequent years.

The Carter Family is one of the most important artists of the 20th century, and they must be heard by anyone who wishes to understand the development of American popular music. The best compilations of the Carter Family’s classic sides include the following releases: The Original and Great Carter Family” (1962), “In the Shadow of Clinch Mountain” (2000), “Wildwood Flower” (2000), and “1927-1934” (2002).

The Carter Family (from left, A.P., Maybelle and Sara)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Benny Goodman: The King of Swing

Benny Goodman and long-time rival, Artie Shaw, are the two greatest and best-known white clarinetists in the history of jazz. Both men achieved huge commercial and critical success during their respective careers. It was Goodman, however, who would forever be identified with the title, “King of Swing,” for his role in the invention of the most popular jazz subgenre during the height of the music’s popularity.

Benny Goodman was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1909. His parents were Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire who struggled to provide for their large family. Despite the family’s relative poverty, David Goodman arranged for music lessons for three of his sons, including Benny, at a local Chicago synagogue. After a year’s training, Benny Goodman, aged eleven, joined a boys’ club band and received further musical training from the club’s director, and later from a classically-trained clarinetist. With this solid foundation, Goodman would launch a career that would span seven decades and would span musical genres from early classic jazz to classical music.

Goodman’s began his jazz career as a clarinetist in the Ben Pollack Orchestra at the age of sixteen. He would make his first recording with the Pollack Orchestra in 1926. He would continue performing and recording with the Pollack Orchestra and its various off-shoots until 1929. During this frenetic period, Goodman also recorded with nationally- known bands of Ben Selvin, Red Nichols, and Ted Lewis. He also recorded under his own name with trombonist Glenn Miller and others as “Benny Goodman’s Boys.”

In the early Thirties, John Hammond of Columbia records arranged for Goodman to record in the company of other stellar jazz musicians in a jazz “all star” band. Other members of the band included pianist Teddy Wilson and drummer Gene Kroupa, two musicians that would form the core of the rhythm section of Goodman’s later orchestra. In 1935, Goodman expressed interest in appearing on the nationwide radio dance music show, “Let’s Dance.” At the advice of John Hammond, Goodman secured “swinging” arrangements of songs from Fletcher Henderson, leader of one of New York’s best jazz orchestras. These arrangements helped make Goodman a hit with the West Coast audience that heard his performance.

On the strength of the Let’s Dance performance and the rave reviews of Goodman’s recordings of “King Porter Stop” and “Sometimes I’m Happy” with Fletcher Henderson arrangements, a large and enthusiastic crowd of young fans were waiting in Oakland, California when the band played a show there in August of 1935. When the Goodman band began to play, the crowd went wild. The same reaction greeted the band in Los Angeles during the debut of a three week engagement at the Palomar Ballroom in August, 1935. During the three-week engagement the “Jitterbug” dance was born, and along with it, the “Swing Era.”

In the wake of the tremendous success of the Goodman band in California, Fletcher Henderson disbanded his great orchestra and become Goodman’s full-time arranger. With the addition of Henderson and pianist Teddy Wilson, both African-Americans, Goodman’s band became the first racially-integrated jazz band in America. Goodman would later add another African-American, the great Charlie Christian, on guitar.

Goodman was coined, “The King of Swing” in 1937, and was secured as such when his orchestra became the first jazz band to play New York’s Carnegie Hall, in 1938. The concert, which included members of Count Basie’s and Duke Ellington’s orchestras, was a true test for jazz music as an art form. If the high-brow Carnegie Hall set could be moved by jazz, the music would earn a much needed stamp of approval from the music establishment. After an uninspired start, the Goodman Orchestra slowly built momentum and climaxed with an epic version of “Sing, Sing, Sing” featuring spectacular solos by Goodman and pianist, Jess Stacy.

In 1939, John Hammond introduced the electric guitarist, Charlie Christian, to Goodman as a prospective band member. Despite initial doubts, Goodman was greatly impressed with Christian’s playing and included him in the Benny Goodman Sextet for the next two years. The sextet recordings with Christian including “Rose Room,” “Breakfast Feud,” and “Grand Slam” are some of the finest recordings in jazz history.

Goodman continued to have tremendous success as a big band leader until the mid-Forties when swing music began to lose steam. Goodman flirted with be-bop music and even formed a bebop band before finally denouncing the music. In 1949, at the age of 40, Goodman turned his back on jazz to devote himself to the study of classical music. Following a lengthy retirement from jazz, Goodman died of a heart attack in 1986.

A plethora of fine collections are available for Goodman’s recordings at various phases of his career including the fine four volume “Chronological Classics: Benny Goodman and His Orchestra” (1996) while “The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert Vol.1-2” (1950) is one of the finest live recordings of popular music ever made.

Benny Goodman (third from left) and his band