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The Columbia and OKeh Benny Goodman Orchestra Sessions (#240)Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set
"His quicksilver tone, his insistent drive to swing the music, his ability to execute cleanly the most dramatic filigrees of passages – all these qualities made him one of the most imitated instrumentalists in the world.”
- Robert J. O’Meally, Dir. of Jazz Studies, Columbia Univ.
Limited Edition: 5000 copies
7 CDs - $119.00
You see it again and again in music - a new generation rushes the dance floor, pushes their parents to the wall, and suddenly it's their turn. There's a new sound. The sound of rebellion. It's also the story of swing, and it's jazz swing king, Benny Goodman.
Benny Goodman. The name alone evokes a completely different era in popular music and jazz. His remarkably fluid concept on the clarinet took jazz improvisation a step in a new direction from that of his influences, Jimmie Noone and Leon Roppolo. You could hear it as far back as the late 20s and early 30s when BG was an apprentice with the bands of Ben Pollack and Ted Lewis as well as the countless studio sessions he did for a variety of band leaders. Try to describe the Goodman sound of jazz? Easy: Pure Swing.
The big band he organized for the "Let's Dance" radio program over NBC in New York eventually matured into the locomotive that barreled through the country to its famed and often told moment of discovery and success at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. The swing band delivered to the youth of America a new voice that was hot, cool, progressive and inventive.
In that spirit, Mosaic Records is proud to present the Classic Columbia and OKeh Benny Goodman Orchestra Sessions (1939-1958) - a treasured collection of seven CDs, spanning nearly 20 years of Goodman's musical life, from the late 1930s when his popularity was already well established, throughout the 1950s when Benny would assemble the cream of muisicians of the mainstream jazz world to be, even if it were just for one session, the Benny Goodman Orchestra. The collection features more than 24 tracks that are being released for the first time.
Spotlight On Instrumentals & The Musicians
This collection of recordings represent the second stage of Goodman's career. With the disarming of the early band of which Harry James, Gene Krupa and Jess Stacy were such an intregal part, coupled with the loss of the Goodman Trio and Quartet with Krupa, Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton, this marked the end of an era. Leaving the Victor label, Benny joins Columbia and presents some new and old faces including musicians: Lionel Hampton, Ziggy Elman, Charlie Christian, Arthur Bernstein, Lou McGarrity, Stan Getz, Jimmy Maxwell and what was once big news - Benny luring Cootie Williams away from the Ellington band.
However, possibly the greatest change in the swing band was in the arranging department. The man whose charts were a springboard to the early success of the BG band, Fletcher Henderson, is still churning out great arrangements. Yet it was the work of musicians Eddie Sauter and Mel Powell whose young, fertile ideas were a challenge to both Benny and the band and made for some of the Swing Era's most durable sounds.
We've decided to focus on this set of Goodmania, the instrumental big band swing sides for Columbia and OKeh. There are a few vocals but these are the jazz instrumentals that although eclipsed commercially by Benny's contemporaries - Harry James, Glenn Miller, the Dorseys and Artie Shaw - they are nonetheless Olympian examples of big band swing.
Mosaic Quality: Superior Sound, Priceless Photographs, Informative Liner Notes
Our transfers of the jazz recordings came for the most part from the original metal mothers, lacquer discs and reel to reel tapes. Our discography took shape through the invaluable research done by Russ Connor in his superb discographies on Benny. We also had access to the original Columbia / OKeh ledgers and AFM logs to also get the details as accurate as possible, and correct errors insuring the quality and integrity of the collection that these musicians deserve.
A full retrospective of the period and session-by-session analysis by Loren Schoenberg sets the record straight on all the recordings included. The booklet also includes many priceless photographs of the jazz era including a New Year's Eve dance at the Waldorf Astoria in 1938.
Read More About Benny Goodman:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates »
- Audio Quality
- Sample Session Notes
The sources for this set came from the original metal mothers, lacquer discs and reel to reel tapes made available to us from SonyBMG. The lacquers in particular gave us 28 previously unissued alternates and the reels gave us 2 previously unissued alternates plus 1 never before documented tune ("Swanee River" from the "Swing Into Spring" session).
Having these first generation sources gave us the best sound possible with transfers done by Matt Cavaluzzo, Michael Brooks, Andreas Meyer, Mark Wilder and sound restoration and mastering by Malcolm Addey.
Photo Copyright © Protected
The photographs used came from the collections of Frank Driggs, the Institute of Jazz Studies and radio personality and close friend of Benny's - Jack Ellsworth. However, a real cache came from some never before seen images from Charles Peterson (taken at a New Years Eve dance at the Waldorf Astoria in 1938); Don Hunstein's studio photos from the 1958 "Swing Into Spring" session; and last but not least, from Benny's own private collection which is now housed at Yale University.
August 10, 1939
"Jumpin At The Woodside" is taken quite faster than the Count Basie version and to their credit, the Goodman band finds their own way around its riffy exterior. Goodman's slight squeak in his opening bridge is probably what relegated the alternate -B take to the scrap heap. Other than that, it is a superb rendition and in some ways superior to the issued one. Fatool is at the root of the band's tremendous beat. These are his first recordings and few drummers made such a startling debut on disc. The Columbia engineers clearly set out to give the rhythm section a definition and depth that was startlingly new at the time. You can not only hear but feel the throb of the guitar, bass, and bass drum. Fatool starts out on a ride cymbal (unusual for 1939) and stays there, peppering the solos and backgrounds with occasional accents. The hit with the brass behind Toots Mondello's alto solo is exciting; it's missing on the issued take. Fatool also swirls around on the other cymbals for emphasis in a manner reminiscent of Dave Tough.
Mondello was a superb lead alto player, with a large, singing tone, and exceptional technique. As a composer himself (not just of tunes but of symphonies and chamber music), he knew how the saxophone section fit into the various arrangements, continually shifting between the background and foreground. Mondello's solos have a floridity that can be something of an acquired taste, but they wear well. Chris Griffin was a first-rate trumpeter who excelled in section work, playing lead on occasion, and as we hear here, a slightly mannered soloist. After playing solos on a handful of Goodman Victor recordings in 1936, he disappeared into the section after the advent of Elman and James in 1936/37. Griffin's playing on a few classic small group dates in the mid-30's (Mildred Bailey, Teddy Wilson) doesn't leave a distinct stylistic impression beyond his seeming desire to sound "jazzy". Maybe it was nerves (not an unknown ailment in the Goodman band) but his trumpet solos on these sessions are not in a league with those of his peers Berigan, Kazebier, Elman and James. Corky Cornelius is not heard from at all, and that is too bad, for he was an aggressively spontaneous player.
Note the tremendous shift in rhythmic ease when Goodman follows with a worrying break. There was a new vitality in Goodman's playing during this period and the open-throated glee in his sound is something to treasure. He is on fire on both takes and throws in some special octave tricks during the bridge for good measure.
The shout choruses contain an eccentric upward trombone glissando which Goodman eventually extends in the stratosphere. As Lester Young was to put it, necessity is a motherf*****. On the issued take, the lead trumpeter makes a slight error on a high note in the closing riffs, and immediately converts it into the phrase followed in lock step by the other two trumpeters as though it was meant to have happened. In a sense, that's jazz.
CUSTOMER REVIEWSClick here to write a review
"My copy arrived late last night and I immediately opened it. Four hours later I was still exploring the wonders of this set, still awed by the brilliance of Benny Goodman and his early 1940s orchestras. Virtually no other ensemble of the time - apart from Ellington's - managed to combine such a sense of adventure with respect for its own heritage. You hear the band go from the almost avant-garde Eddie Sauter arrangements to the familiar sound of the Fletcher Henderson charts with no loss of ent ...
Read More Reviews »
Jazz scholar and Executive Director of The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Loren Schoenberg, talks about Benny Goodman and some of the highlights of this Mosaic Records boxset.
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