Thursday, June 13, 2013

Swing Swing Swing

On January 16, 1938 jazz came to Carnegie Hall for the first time.  Carnegie Hall was the most prestigious venue in America and until then jazz had not been considered the "right" type of music for that location.  What the capacity audience heard that night was a two-hour concert by the Benny Goodman Orchestra, led by clarinetist Benny Goodman and featuring Gene Krupa on drums and Harry James on trumpet.  During the evening members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands (including Count Basie himself) made guest appearances.

A recording of the concert was released in 1950 as the first double album ever issued.  My parents bought it and I still have it.

The climax of the concert was Sing Sing Sing, written in 1936 by Louis Prima. Originally a three minute song with a vocal, over a two year period of experimentation the Goodman band expanded it to the 12 minute version heard at Carnegie Hall and dropped the vocals.

That night featured solos by Goodman, James, Krupa and Jess Stacy on piano.  Stacy did not normally solo but that night Goodman turned to him (about 9:00 in) and told him to let it rip.  This is great stuff and still exciting to listen to 75 years later.
Below is the full live performance while this link has the last eight minutes of the song along with pictures taken that night and a little of the backstory on the song from Benny himself.

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