Benny Goodman: biography, best songs, interesting facts, listen

Benny goodman

The King of Swing and the Clarinet Patriarch are not just awarded with such titles, and Benny Goodman, a brilliant performer, composer, actor, and even a writer, wore them rightfully. The history of jazz knows many brilliant musicians who have made a significant contribution to the development of this area of ​​music, but Goodman was a particularly outstanding person - a key figure, whose role is very difficult to overestimate in the prosperity of this type of music. An extraordinary man with many talents, a great jazzman who won national recognition at a young age and became an idol not only of his time, but also of subsequent generations, he loved music very much, always striving for perfection, therefore he was a virtuosic clarinetist, who played great not only jazz compositions, but also works of classical repertoire. Benny Goodman is an iconic person in the history of world music.

short biography

Benjamin David Goodman (this is the true name of an outstanding jazzman) was born in the American city of Chicago, in the family of poor Jew David Goodman on May 30, 1909. The parents of the future musician, who had not yet known each other, emigrated to the United States from different cities of the Russian Empire, met in Boston and, after getting married, moved to Chicago, a city with a developing industry, in which there was an opportunity to find work. A large family settled in one of the poorest areas. David got a job as a tailor in a small garment factory, and Dora, the mother of the family, led the house and raised twelve children. The good men lived poorly, the children grew hungry, sometimes there was no food at all. The basement where the family lived was not heated, as there was not enough money for it. The guys went to school, but as they could, they tried to help their parents, earning some work by cleaning their shoes, washing windows and selling newspapers. Traditionally, on weekends, the whole family attended one of the parks of Chicago, where music concerts took place in the summer.


One day David accidentally learned from neighbors that in the nearest synagogue children were taught to play various instruments for free. Inspired by the hope for a better future for his sons, his father went on Sunday to negotiate for the education of his children. A week later, the elders Harry and Fredy, who were twelve and eleven years old, were given a tuba and a trumpet, and the youngest, ten-year-old Benny, got the clarinet. The father was not mistaken in his sons: they turned out to be musically gifted and capable children, and a year later the boys demonstrated their ability to play instruments to family guests. Gradually, the rumor about talented little musicians began to spread rapidly around the district, they began to receive an invitation to play at family parties, parties and dances, earning a little money from this, which was helped in the family budget.

Benny was notable for his successes from other boys engaged in music in the synagogue, a year later he freely performed compositions by the popular clarinettist Ted Lewis. Parents were happy for their son, they wanted him to become a professional musician, and Benny himself was anxious for this. To fulfill his dream, he began to take private lessons on the classical clarinet from a remarkable teacher and soloist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Franz Schepp. Under the guidance of a beautiful musician and as a result of many hours of daily hard work, the street boy was transformed into a real musician. The teacher was so pleased with the success of his student that he refused to take payment for the lessons and even organized the first solo concert for Benny. The performance of the young musician attracted the attention of not only music lovers, but also professional musicians. He begins to work in local orchestras and by the age of 14 he makes the final important decision for himself: to link his whole life with music.

Carier start

In 1925, Benny's performance was heard by jazz saxophonist Gil Rodin, who at the time was playing in the B. Pollack band, he invited Goodman to Los Angeles, where the orchestra was based at the time. The young musician worked with Pollak for four years, during which time he gained a great performing experience and made his first recordings, first as part of the orchestra, and then in solo performance. In the autumn of 1929, Goodman made a fateful decision and moved to New York, where he was awaited as an independent musician. Here he plays in musical groups, voicing musicals of Broadway theaters, enthusiastically engaged in arrangements, as well as writing their own compositions. Special for Goodman was the year 1931, which was the start of the brilliant career of a young musician and was marked by the recording of the first author's composition, which quickly gained popularity among the general public. Then in 1933, Benny met John Hammond, a renowned expert in the world of jazz, who later played a very important role in the musical career of the future King of Swing. Hammond became not only Goodman's friend, but his producer, mentor and guardian. John helped Benny sign a contract with a large record company Columbia Records and in collaboration with well-known performers to record several songs that are in the top ten.

In the spring of 1934, on the advice of Hammond, Benny created his own orchestra, whose debut performance took place as early as June. In November of the same year, Goodman signed a contract with NBC on the Let's Let's Dance series of radio programs, and in the spring of 1935, Benny and the big band went on the first tour of the country. It did not start very well, but in the end it was a success. Then there was a contract with CBS, the first appearance on television, participation in the filming of the movie Hotel Hollywood, as well as a series of triumphal concerts at the Paramount Theater, during which Goodman was unofficially proclaimed King of Swing. However, the peak of his musical career was a performance on January 16, 1938 in the famous Carnegie Hall Philharmonic Hall, where jazz music had never sounded before.

In 1939, Benny started having health problems: an unbearable pain in his legs made him go to the hospital and then even have an operation. With all this, the difficulties did not break Goodman, having got a little stronger, he again zealously gets down to work: he writes down new compositions that hit the top ten several times, takes part in the production of the musical "Swing Dreams", and in 1942 - 1943's actively is filming a movie. In 1944, Benny participates in the Broadway musical "The Seven Arts", which is very popular with the audience. In order to fully devote himself to performing, Goodman at the end of 1949 dissolves his jazz band, then completes his practice of composing. The countries of Europe, the Far East, South America, the Soviet Union - such is the vast geography of the world tours of Goodman, who became famous not only as an unsurpassed jazzman, but also an excellent performer of the classical repertoire. The King of Swing loved his instrument so much that he was engaged in performing activities almost until his death. Benny Goodman died in New York on June 13 in 1986.

Interesting Facts

  • Benny Goodman was an opponent of racial prejudice, which is why he had the nickname "racial color blind".
  • Fourteen-year-old Benny, on the advice of his teacher, to join the professional union of musicians "added" to himself a couple of years, immediately becoming sixteen years old.
  • In Chicago in the 20s of the last century, terrible banditry was walking around, which horrified the inhabitants of the city. Robbery and murder, not only at night, but during the day, was common. Goodman recalled his childhood as follows: "According to the law of the street, if my brothers and I were not engaged in music, I would certainly become gangsters."
  • Music lovers in Chicago, delighted with the performance of the young prodigy, jokingly called Benny "a musician in short pants."
  • Goodman's father died tragically on December 9, 1926. He was hit by a car and died in hospital, never regaining consciousness. With the loss of a father for a family, a very difficult time came, and Benny helped his relatives, giving them the money they earned.
  • The difficult hungry childhood spent in the slums of Chicago, for life has left an indelible mark on Benny's soul. Even being already quite a rich man, he constantly infringed upon musicians, bargaining with them about their wages, trying to make for themselves a more profitable option.
  • His first touring tour, which took place in the summer of 1935, Goodman and the musicians of his orchestra, due to lack of funds for renting a bus, were made in their own cars.

  • Benny Goodman was the first jazz performer who was honored to perform at Carnegie Hall - the famous concert hall in New York. "
  • Being already recognized as an authoritative professional in the field of jazz music, Goodman was constantly striving for even greater perfection and in the early fifties he took performance lessons from the famous English clarinet player Reginald Kell.
  • His first million dollars Benny earned in 1938 for the circulation of records that he recorded after a concert at Carneggy Hall, which made him truly famous.
  • Goodman’s popularity was so high in both the USA and Europe that famous composers such as Bela Bartok, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland dedicated their writings to him.
  • About the tour of the famous bluesman in the USSR joked that the "King of the swing" managed to influence the Caribbean crisis, and that his swing almost blew off the "iron curtain".
  • During his tour of the Soviet Union, when visiting the Red Square, Goodman was fascinated by the rhythm that the cadets of the Kremlin regiment, when changing the guard at Lenin's Mausoleum, took out the minting step, pulled out a clarinet and played a folk song. The next day, the headlines were: "The King of Swing, with the accompaniment of soldiers' boots, performs jazz in the heart of communism!"
  • Benny Goodman is the first jazz musician to go on a tour in the Soviet Union. After him, other world stars appeared in Moscow, for example Duke Ellington.
  • Newspapers very often wrote about the negative attitude of musicians towards Goodman, nevertheless, according to the Metronom polls compared to Glen Miller, he held a more advantageous position.
  • Benny Goodman was the first to use a vibraphone and an electric guitar as a solo instrument in his ensemble.
  • Goodman was married only once. His chosen one was the sister of John Hammond, Alice Francis Hammond, who later presented the musician with two daughters Rachel and Benji.

  • The King of Swing was a very scattered man, and there were a lot of jokes among the musicians about this. But the pinnacle of the violation of his attention was that he could not remember the names of his two daughters and three stepdaughters, calling them just guys.
  • The house in which Benny Goodman was born, still exists in Chicago on Francisco Street.
  • Goodman loved fishing. This was his main and very fascinating hobby.

Top songs

Benny Goodman was such a talented virtuoso performer that every thought that came to his mind could be put into the language of his favorite instrument with little effort. Skillful possession of sound, excellent intonation, characterized by softness and abundance of timbre shades, skillful construction of quick short phrases, all this causes a feeling of human speech. During his rich creative life, Benny Goodman created a fairly large number of compositions, and many instantly became hits and entered the "Top 10". Among them deserve special attention: "Let's Dance", "After You've Gone", "Avalon", "Stompin At the Savoy", "Flying Home", "Symphony", "Somebody Stole My Ga", "How Am I to Know? "," Goodbye "," Jersey Bounce "," Why not you do right? "," Clarinet a la King ", and also:

  • "Sing, Sing, Sing" - this song was written by Italian-American singer and composer Louis Prima, but it was the instrumental version of the melody performed by the Goodman Orchestra that became the most popular and was considered an anthem of swing time. An interesting fact is that the Gudmen version of this tune was much longer: instead of the standard 3 minutes, it sounded 8, and sometimes more than 12 minutes.

"Sing, Sing, Sing" (listen)

  • "Don't Be That Way" - The composition, which has become a jazz standard and classic swing, was the result of joint work of Benny Goodman and Edgar Sampson. She gained the most popularity after performing at the legendary bluesman concert in January 1938.

"Don't Be That Way" (listen)

Benny Goodman Orchestra

Benny Goodman created his first band, which was later transformed into a popular swing big band, in the spring of 1934. Initially, the jazz group consisted of 12 musicians who were presented with very high performance requirements, among them were R. Ballard, D. Lacey, T. Mondello, H. Shetzer, D. Epps, F. Froeb, G. Goodman, S. King, B. Berigan, H. Ward. The orchestra's premiere took place on June 1, 1934, then in November the band was invited to NBC for the Let's Let's Dance radio program, which was broadcast every Saturday for six months. After the completion of the contract in May 1935, Goodman decides to make a tour of the country with the band. At first everything was not bad, the public accepted the orchestra with great enthusiasm, but the further the orchestra moved inland, the more intense the situation in the auditorium became. Listeners of the hinterland did not perceive the jazz music that the orchestra played, it was unusual for them, In Denver, there was even a scandal: people demanded a refund. Frustrated musicians already thought that their tour came to an end, but in Auckland they unexpectedly received a warm welcome, and in Los Angeles there was a sensation at the concert. The orchestra carefully began its performance with the performance of well-known melodies, but this repertoire left the listeners indifferent, then Goodman made a desperate decision, and real jazz, mind-blowing swing sounded from the stage. The audience roared furiously with delight. This concert, which took place on August 21, 1935, was a real furore and the true triumph of the Goodman Orchestra, and from that day the countdown of the "swing era" began.

In 1936, the Benny Orchestra is increasingly gaining popularity, the fame of it extends to the whole country. American Radio Network CBS invites him to participate in the radio series "Camel Caravan", which then went on the air for more than two years. The team first appears on television, and then in 1937 participates in the filming of the movie "Hotel Hollywood". The musicians in the orchestra changed very often, the reason for this was the continuous striving of the leader for perfect performance and his intolerance for mistakes. If any of the musicians did not suit Goodman, then he gave the person his “fish-like look,” that is, he looked through the person. Not many could withstand such neglect and left the orchestra. In 1938, concerts of the fully formed big band were held at a very high professional level. He became the first jazz band, which was honored to perform in the famous Carnegie Hall. The concert was a great success. After some time, great changes again occurred in the orchestra: such talented musicians as D. Krupa and G. James left it, but guitarist C. Christian, trumpeter C. Williams and pianist M. Powell appeared, and then drummer D. Taff returned. The team was again staffed and it began a new creative rise.

The Second World War made its own adjustments to the work of the orchestra: many soloists went into the army, and the young people who took their place did not meet all the creative requirements of the leader. In 1943, Goodman, without hesitation, changes young people to veterans, whom he had previously invited seasonally: H. Shertzer, M. Moul, D. Tigarden and D. Jenny. D. Krupa, A. Royce, R. Muzillo and L. Kasl also returned to the band. The orchestra played well in such a composition, but it performed light compositions of past years. In 1944, Goodman begins to think about the dissolution of musicians, but he takes the final decision on disbanding the band in December 1949.

Benny Goodman and Cinema

Benny Goodman, being an extremely talented person, he realized his abilities not only in the musical field, but also in one, while relatively young and very promising field of art - cinematography. All films in which he starred, belong to the genre of musical comedy. In some films, for example: "Sweet and low", "Service entrance to the dining room", "Soldier's club", "The whole gang in the collection", "The birth of the blues", "Sincerely and without improvisation" Goodman with his orchestra and plays yourself And in such films as “The Song is Born,” “The Great Broadcasting in 1937,” and “Hotel Hollywood,” he was assigned the role of other characters. Следует также отметить, что, являясь весьма известным человеком, Бенни Гудмен почти до конца своей жизни с удовольствием снимался в различных сериалах и популярных телевизионных шоу. К примеру, "Городской тост", "Лицом к лицу", "Доброе утро, Америка", "Американские мастера", "Великие представления". Кроме того, музыкальные композиции Гудмена и в нынешнее время довольно часто используется в саундтреках современных фильмов, например: "Союзники" (2016) Роберта Земекиса или "Светская жизнь" (2016) Вуди Аллена.

Гастроли в СССР

In the early sixties, the relationship between the United States and the USSR was very tense, and in order to somehow defuse the situation, an agreement on cultural contacts was concluded between the two countries. The United States recommended American jazz from Benny Goodman for a trip to the Soviet Union. Initially, the representatives of the delegation of the country, where even the word "jazz" was forbidden, reacted very cautiously to this proposal, but the fact that Goodman was the son of a simple worker, moreover, his repertoire consisted not only of jazz compositions, but also classical music, played a role. Goodman gladly accepted the invitation, because his dream had come true, which he had dreamed of since childhood: to visit his parents' homeland. The tour of the orchestra, which consisted of "jazz stars", was planned for six weeks with a visit to six major cities. A total of 32 performances took place, they were visited by about 200 thousand people.

The success was overwhelming. Proof of this were the repeated "bezovki" and the storm of applause, which confirmed the delight of the audience. One of the concerts visited N.S. Khrushchev, however, after the first separation, the head of state left the hall, saying that his head was beginning to ache from the "jazz". However, the next day, he unofficially visited the US embassy, ​​freely and even cheerfully communicated with Goodman and the musicians, and in the end they all sang Katyusha together. Goodman's tour in the Soviet Union, which passed with unprecedented triumph and noted in the press with enthusiastic publications, helped in our country to take out of the shadows and legitimize jazz, and at the same time helped to reveal their talent to many musicians. Impressed by the trip, Goodman released the same album, Benny Goodman in Moscow, in the same year, and in the USSR a fascinating documentary film was released the next year telling about these historical tours, which made a great contribution to the normalization of relations between the two great powers.

Benny Goodman - is an outstanding musician - an innovator, who in many ways was the "first". He is the first of the leaders of the orchestra to unite in his group musicians who had different skin color. The first jazzman honored to perform in the famous Carnegie Hall Philharmonic Hall. The first of the musicians combined combined in his repertoire jazz and classical compositions. The first American jazz performer visited the Soviet Union with concerts, thereby prompting the authorities to recognize jazz in our country as a full-fledged type of musical art, which was banned for a long time.

Watch the video: Benny Goodman - Greatest Hits FULL ALBUM - GREATEST AMERICAN JAZZ CLARINETIST (October 2019).

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