Wednesday, January 16, 2008

This day in history

On January 16, 1938 Benny Goodman walked onto the stage of Carnegie Hall and began what is now considered possibly the most famous jazz concert in history. Although the concert sold out almost at once, the decision to present Goodman was considered a radical move, given Carnegie Hall's reputation as the most prestigious venue for serious music in the country. Starting with a full orchestra, the concert somehow got off to a lukewarm start, but when Goodman pared it down to just himself, Teddy Wilson on piano, and Gene Krupa on drums, things started to move. Goodman was noted for his willingness to turn the solo spotlight on musicians other than himself, and this evening was no exception. Later, during the band's signature number, Sing Sing Sing, he suddenly turned it over to pianist Jess Stacy, who had never soloed for that piece. Perhaps inspired by his hallowed surroundings, Stacy responded with a show-stealer that many critics consider the best two minutes of his entire career. It brought the house down: Carnegie Hall was swinging!

The Urbana Free Library has a rich collection of Early Jazz recordings, including Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall Concert, 1938 : complete.

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