Benny Goodman – live from The Madhattan Room, New York – October 13, 1937 – CBS Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Benny Goodman this weekend. The King of Swing holding court at the Madhattan Room on October 13, 1937 and broadcast live over CBS Radio.
On July 31, 1935, “King Porter Stomp” was released with “Sometimes I’m Happy” on the B-side, both arranged by Henderson and recorded on July 1. In Pittsburgh at the Stanley Theater some members of the audience danced in the aisles. But these arrangements had little impact on the tour until August 19 at McFadden’s Ballroom in Oakland, California. Goodman and his band, which included Bunny Berrigan, drummer Gene Krupa, and singer Helen Ward were met by a large crowd of young dancers who cheered the music they had heard on Let’s Dance. Herb Caen wrote, “from the first note, the place was in an uproar.” One night later, at Pismo Beach, the show was a flop, and the band thought the overwhelming reception in Oakland had been a fluke.
The next night, August 21, 1935, at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, Goodman and his band began a three-week engagement. On top of the Let’s Dance airplay, Al Jarvis had been playing Goodman’s records on KFWB radio. Goodman started the evening with stock arrangements, but after an indifferent response, he began the second set with arrangements by Fletcher Henderson and Spud Murphy. According to Willard Alexander, the band’s booking agent, Krupa said, “If we’re gonna die, Benny, let’s die playing our own thing.” The crowd broke into cheers and applause. News reports spread word of the exciting music and enthusiastic dancing. The Palomar engagement was such a marked success that it is often described as the beginning of the swing era. According to Donald Clarke, “It is clear in retrospect that the Swing Era had been waiting to happen, but it was Goodman and his band that touched it off.”
The addition of Harry James to Benny Goodman & His Orchestra in January 1937 gave Benny Goodman one of the greatest trumpet sections ever with James, Ziggy Elman, and Chris Griffin all able to play both solos and lead. Gene Krupa’s drumming became increasingly assertive during this period, adding excitement to the band even if Goodman was not sure that he enjoyed the change in the group’s sound. Helen Ward’s decision to retire at the end of 1936 was unfortunate (she would never regain the fame that she had at that moment) and it would take Goodman much of 1937 before finding the right vocalist. But with that trumpet section, Jess Stacy, Krupa, and the Benny Goodman Trio and quartet, not to mention the leader’s clarinet, this was a classic band — the most popular in the music world.
Hit the Play button and swing.
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