Hoooo Hooooo Hoooowww…An extra long history class from Ghentlemen 🙂
With X-mas coming up and new year, we would like to send you all our best wishes together with this bouncing "Jingle Bells" tune from "The King Of Swing" : Benny Goodman (1909 – 1986)…Let's talk a bit about the man who is known by many, and who is responsible for making swing jazz popular amongst white audiences…
Goodman, born as 9th out of 12 kids in a poor Jewish-Lithuanian immigrants family in Chicago, started his professional career on the clarinet at the age of 12. Soon it appeared that this kid was very talented. Two years later he was in a band with the legendary Bix Beiderbecke and at 16 he was a member of the Ben Pollack Orchestra, with which he made his first recordings in 1926. Probably a very important step in Goodman's career was in 1934 when he auditioned for NBC's "Let's Dance", a well-regarded three-hour weekly radio program that featured various styles of dance music. Since he needed new arrangements every week for the show, his agent, John Hammond, suggested that he purchase "hot" (swing) arrangements from Fletcher Henderson, an African-American musician from Atlanta who had New York's most popular African-American band in the 1920s and early 1930s.
Goodman, a wise businessman, helped Henderson in 1929 when the stock market crashed. He purchased all of Henderson's song books, and hired Henderson's band members to teach his musicians how to play the music. In 1932, his career officially began with Fletcher Henderson. Although Henderson’s orchestra was at its climax of creativity, it had not reached any peaks of popularity. During the Depression, Fletcher disbanded his orchestra as he was in financial debt. In early 1935, Goodman and his band were one of three bands featured on "Let's Dance" where they played arrangements by Henderson along with hits such as "Get Happy" and this tune "Jingle Bells". Goodman's portion of the program from New York, at 12:30 a.m. Eastern Time, aired too late to attract a large East Coast audience. However, unknown to him, the time slot gave him an avid following on the West Coast (they heard him at 9:30 p.m. Pacific Time). It resulted in a west-coast tour…
On august 21st 1935, Goodman and his Orchestra played a concert at the Palomar Ballroom in LA, a place that could host 20000 people. Goodman started the evening with stock arrangements, but after an indifferent response, began the second set with the arrangements by Fletcher Henderson and Spud Murphy. During the break of that concert Gene Krupa said "If we're gonna die, Benny, let's die playing our own thing." The crowd broke into cheers and applause and danced like crazy. News reports spread word of the enthusiastic dancing and exciting new music that was happening. Over the course of the engagement, the "Jitterbug" began to appear as a new dance craze, and radio broadcasts carried the band's performances across the nation. This date is by many seen as the start of the Swing Era in the sense of Benny Goodman, making the swing jazz of the likes of Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford and Fletcher Henderson popular amongst white audiences !
Above that there is the social aspect : Goodman is also responsible for a significant step in racial integration in America. In the early 1930s, black and white jazz musicians could not play together in most clubs or concerts. In the Southern states, racial segregation was enforced by the Jim Crow laws. Benny Goodman broke with tradition by hiring Teddy Wilson to play with him and drummer Gene Krupa in the Benny Goodman Trio. In 1936, he added Lionel Hampton on vibes to form the Benny Goodman Quartet; in 1939 he added pioneering jazz guitarist Charlie Christian to his band and small ensembles, who played with him until his death from tuberculosis less than three years later. This integration in music happened ten years before Jackie Robinson became the first black American to enter Major League Baseball.
Goodman's popularity was such that he could remain financially viable without touring the South, where he would have been subject to arrest for violating Jim Crow laws.
When someone asked him why he "played with that nigger" (referring to Teddy Wilson), Goodman replied, "I'll knock you out if you use that word around me again".
Lionel Hampton said : "As far as I'm concerned, what he did in those days—and they were hard days, in 1937—made it possible for Negroes to have their chance in baseball and other fields." Benny Goodman kept on playing till he died from a heart attack in 1986.