"Hollywood Hotel Good Morning"
February 8, 2014 1:51 AM   Subscribe

Benny Goodman Sing Sing Sing.

A concert here and a movie here.

(Warning, autoplay)
Music: Cats in Asia Time Magazine Monday, Jan. 21, 1957

And St. James Infirmary because I like it.
posted by vapidave (31 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
It was 1973. My friends were mostly listening to bad early disco, which I just didn't get.

I stayed up late one Saturday evening and watched this movie, and when Gene Krupa started in I couldn't believe it--I had never heard anything that heart-pounding before. After that, I went out and got all the Benny Goodman, Arte Shaw, Glen Miller etc. that I could get my hands on and listened to it until the grooves wore through. Could anything be better than a swinging Big Band? Yet my folks, both of whom were born in 1921, thought I was insane, and told me of having foregone opportunities to see these musicians in person.

Ultimately I dragged them downtown to see Benny Goodman live on what may have been his final tour. I was, by many decades, the youngest person in the audience, and when Goodman asked for requests for his encores, I shouted out "Down South Camp Meeting!" so excitedly he turned in my direction and said, "Do I hear a young voice out there?" before setting his clarinet to the task at hand.

Thank you so much for posting this... I still think the Big Band era saw some of the most phenomenal musicianship the world has ever seen. So sorry I was born 30 years too late for it.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:14 AM on February 8, 2014 [31 favorites]

Ol' Gene Krupa, man, he loved to lay into those tom toms, didn't he?

Love the camera work and film editing in this clip. It's a very skillful presentation, on film, of a musical performance. Really well done.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:02 AM on February 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Well shit, I'm usually pretty good about staying out of my posts. Today I happily fail.
♫ Down South Camp Meeting ♫
posted by vapidave at 5:03 AM on February 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Well, I was born in 1973 and I still got my initial musical education from Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and the rest. My parents gave me an old phonograph that I used to play a Best-of-Disney record over and over. Then I raided their record stash in the closet and I was hooked. Awesome stuff.

And as a side note, it wasn't until I had my daughter and started to watch old Disney movies again that I discovered a connection between two of those records: Turns out that King Louis was the same guy who performed the wildest show from Tahoe.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:42 AM on February 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I watched that clip and was amused by the musicians postures. Having come through a university music program, we got things like posture and taking breaths the "proper" way drilled into us. Goodman and his band break every rule I was taught, yet they're tight as anything, sound fantastic, and are going at lightning speed.

Although I was (am) a singer, my sister and I hung out with all the brass players at University. And they were deeply into swing, for obvious reasons. We almost got the cops called on us one time because we were at a house party and playing swing music too loud, and that was in the mid 90s. It's kind of a shame that this gets thought of as "old" music; there's a lot to enjoy in it!
posted by LN at 6:02 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

The band's outfits have the no-nonsense efficiency of gas-station attendant uniforms, but with a floral-print ascots giving a touch of elegance.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:05 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

God I love that song. What a joyful ass kicking.
posted by gwint at 6:27 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

This has always been one of my favorite songs. Thank you!
posted by quixotictic at 6:33 AM on February 8, 2014

Turns out that King Louis was the same guy who performed the wildest show from Tahoe.

And to bring things full circle, he is also the same guy who wrote Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing).
posted by fings at 6:52 AM on February 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Gene Fucking Krupa, man.

that is all
posted by JeffK at 6:53 AM on February 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

One of my all time favorites!! Thanks for posting!
posted by Majorita at 6:56 AM on February 8, 2014

I was going to mention that BG did some of his best playing in his various small groups and lo and behold, it's at the end of the Sing, Sing, Sing clip. So now I'll just say you need to seek some more of that out, particularly with Charlie Christian, Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson.

Here's one to get you started: Shivers.
posted by tommasz at 7:07 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Gene Fucking Krupa, man.


Great clip, thanks! Who was on vibes, was that Lionel?
posted by petebest at 7:09 AM on February 8, 2014

petebest, that certainly was! With Teddy Wilson on piano.
posted by tommasz at 7:12 AM on February 8, 2014

Recently read Swing, Swing, Swing: The Life & Times of Benny Goodman, by Ross Firestone--which I highly recommend if you are interested in this type of thing.

I've read lots of books about music over the past 40 years or so (doctorate in music performance somewhere back there in the musty cellar of my life history), but one thing that is really cool about our modern, internet-enhanced time is that back in the day when you read about some piece, or performance, or performers you'd just be left guessing what it really sounded like based on a few sentences of the author's description.

Now, whenever Firestone mentioned some piece, or performance, or performer, or whatever, invariably I could find it--often the VERY performance with the VERY performer in the VERY venue he was discussing--with about 10 seconds of searching on Youtube.

It's just astonishing how being able to instantly see and hear those original performances enhances the experience of reading the book.

Just for example:

Sobbin' Blues, 1926, featuring Benny Goodman (17) and Glenn Miller (23)

After a While, Benny Goodman's Boys, 1929

King Porter Stomp, 1935

Bumble Bee Stomp, 1938

1938 Carnegie Hall recording of Swing, Swing, Swing, syncronized with archival video footage

Big John's Special, 1938

Goodman's version of Sugar Foot Stomp by Fletcher Henderson (1943) vs the version by Fletcher Henderson and his orchestra in 1925

Stealing Apples, 1948

Goodman plays Mozart and Bartok (1940)

About an hour's worth of documentary video clips of Goodman in 4 parts

If you're a real die-hard: The complete 1938 Carnegie Hall Performance live.
posted by flug at 7:12 AM on February 8, 2014 [9 favorites]

FYI Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert and the live recording of it that was released 12 years later--after swing had already faded from the forefront of the American music scene--both have an interesting backstory.

It was the first double album, one of the first to be issued in long-playing format, and one of the first to sell over a million copies. It was issued after Goodman's sister-in-law re-discovered the acetate recordings (relatively poor quality) in his apartment 1950.

The aluminum masters (better quality) were rediscovered in 1998 and new, much higher quality CD versions of the concert issued. posted by flug at 7:37 AM on February 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

It is really hard to believe that's not CGI starting at 5:03 but GENE KRUPA IS REAL
posted by How the runs scored at 7:37 AM on February 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

Gene Fucking Krupa, man.

Mr. Krupa was definitely an influence on my first name along with a Mr. Kelly.
posted by octothorpe at 8:21 AM on February 8, 2014

Oh and definitely listen to the Carnegie Hall concert. Some serious history made right there.
posted by octothorpe at 8:37 AM on February 8, 2014

This clip is one of my all time faves. Switched to drums last year and I always watch this. Krupa is just slaying, and those hits where he raises his arms up slowly are totally all for the audience.

Great post.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:54 AM on February 8, 2014

And there's Benny Goodman with Charlie Christian on electric guitar - in 1941: Till Tom Special, and Seven Come Eleven, from around 1940, with a live performance with George Benson in 1975.

Grand Slam, from 1944, sounds like it was from about 15 year later to me.
posted by dilettante at 9:11 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

... Benny also became famous for being colorblind when it came to racial segregation and prejudice. Pianist Teddy Wilson, an African-American, first appeared in the Benny Goodman Trio at the Congress Hotel in 1935. Benny added Lionel Hampton, who would later form his own band, to his Benny Goodman Quartet the next year. While these groups were not the first bands to feature both white and black musicians, Benny's national popularity helped to make racially mixed groups more accepted in the mainstream. Benny once said, "If a guy's got it, let him give it. I'm selling music, not prejudice."
posted by Postroad at 10:05 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

My experience was just like kinakeet - about 12 years ago I started swing dancing, and went way down the rabbit hole learning about all the big bands. Goodman's definitely my favorite (and Ellington). And I swiftly developed a big dead celebrity crush on Gene Krupa, a guy who was well ahead of his time.
posted by Miko at 11:01 AM on February 8, 2014

Louis Prima
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:10 AM on February 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Awesome. Thanks for this
posted by Smedleyman at 12:14 PM on February 8, 2014

Turns out that King Louis was the same guy who performed the wildest show from Tahoe

And to bring things full circle, he is also the same guy who wrote Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)

The same guy? Some guy?

Like Golden Eternity said, that's Louis Prima! He was my favorite when I played the trumpet as a kid.

Not only did he write and perform "Sing, Sing Sing," as mentioned above, he was the voice of King Louie in the Jungle Book. He also wrote "Jump Jive and Wail" that was covered by the Brian Setzer Orchestra back when the swing craze was becoming a thing in the early 90s. While he didn't write the original songs, he did a medley of "Just a Gigolo"/"I Ain't Got Nobody" that was later covered by both The Village People and David Lee Roth. He was one of the performers at J.F.K.'s Inaugural Gala and with Keely Smith, does the best ever version of That Old Black Magic!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:47 PM on February 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Gene Krupa's and Teddy Wilson's hands were moving faster than 24 fps.
posted by elmer benson at 1:26 PM on February 8, 2014

Benny Goodman! Thanks to my father playing his parent's old Benny Goodman 78's when I was a kid, I went out for clarinet in my elementary school band, only to be told that the clarinet was for girls and that I would be learning saxophone instead. I countered by saying Benny Goodman played the clarinet, which impressed the band instructor that I knew who Benny Goodman was at 8 years old but did nothing to dissuade in her decison. I quit after 4 months or so, not having had anyone play me some Cannonball Adderly until I was 18, which probably would have motivated me to stick with the sax.
posted by KingEdRa at 4:14 PM on February 8, 2014

Benny Goodman was a rock star before there were rock stars.
posted by prepmonkey at 5:59 PM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I feel kind of ridiculous for putting this on and listening to it instead of watching it now that I read the comments here...
posted by avocet at 6:44 PM on February 8, 2014

Does anyone know if they split the performance into orchestra and quartet for artistic reasons or, instead, to have a discrete bit that could be edited out when shown down South, what with cullid boys and White Men brazenly making music together?
posted by the sobsister at 10:23 AM on February 9, 2014

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