Happy birthday Benny Goodman!

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Benny Goodman (May 30, 1909–June 13, 1986) was an American jazz and classical clarinetist and big band leader. Goodman is remembered as ushering jazz into the world of "respectable" music. His band was also one of the first well-known racially integrated jazz groups.

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Goodman was born in Chicago to David and Dora Goodman. His interest in music came at an early age, and his father enrolled him in lessons at the Kehelah Jacob Synagogue. By the time he was 14, he was already playing in a band with other up-and-comers including Bix Beiderbecke.

Goodman had earned such a reputation by the time he was 16 that a California-based band led by Ben Pollack sought him out. He joined the Ben Pollack Orchestra in 1925 and made his first recordings in 1926. He remained with the band through 1929 in some form or another. (Image source).

Just as Goodman was getting his start in the music business in 1926, a low point also came when his father was struck by a streetcar and killed.

Goodman moved to New York and became a successful studio musician until 1934, when he found out that Billy Rose needed a band for his new theater restaurant, the Music Hall.

Soon after he and his band auditioned for a spot on NBC's Let's Dance. Goodman added drummer Gene Krupa to the band, cementing their big band sound. The music Goodman and his band developed during this period became what is now known as Swing. They played on the show until July 1935. In November 1935, Goodman agreed to play at the Joseph Urban Room at the Congress Hotel. The band ended up staying for six months, with their performances broadcast over several NBC affiliate stations.

 

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In June 1936, with Goodman just 28 years old, his band went to Hollywood to begin CBS's radio program Camel Caravan. The program was scheduled in prime time and was listened to by popular and critical audiences alike.

In January 1938, Goodman's band was booked for Carnegie Hall, in what would become the venue's first jazz concert. Goodman, or "the King of Swing," as he was dubbed, was at the height of his success.

He went on to play with Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Mildred Bailey, Bessie Smith and many others. (Image source)

Goodman experimented with Bebop and classical music during the end of the 1930s and into the 1940s, but in the end concluded that Bebop was not progressive enough, saying " "Maybe bop has done more to set music back for years than anything [...] Basically it's all wrong. It's not even knowing the scales. [...] Bop was mostly publicity and people figuring angles."

Goodman's band also appeared in many films including The Big Broadcast of 1937, Hollywood Hotel (1938), Syncopation (1942), The Powers Girl (1942), Stage Door Canteen (1943), The Gang's All Here (1943), Sweet and Lowdown (1944) and A Song Is Born (1948).

Goodman was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1957. He is credited with bringing the clarinet into the spotlight in jazz and classical music.

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Friday, 30 May 2014
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