Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman 1942.jpg
Goodman in 1942
Background information
Birth nameBenjamin David Goodman
Born(1909-05-30)May 30, 1909
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJune 13, 1986(1986-06-13) (aged 77)
New York City
  • Musician
  • bandleader
  • songwriter

Benjamin David Goodman (May 30, 1909 – June 13, 1986), best known as Benny Goodman, was an American jazz clarinetist and bandleader known as the "King of Swing".[1]

In the mid-1930s, Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in the United States. His concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City on January 16, 1938 is described by critic Bruce Eder as "the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history: jazz's 'coming out' party to the world of 'respectable' music."[2]

Goodman's bands launched the careers of many major jazz artists. During an era of racial segregation, he led one of the first well-known integrated jazz groups. Goodman performed nearly to the end of his life while exploring an interest in classical music.

Early years

The Maxwell street ghetto where Goodman grew up

Goodman was born in Chicago, the ninth of twelve children of poor Jewish emigrants from the Russian Empire. His father, David Goodman (1873–1926), came to America in 1892 from Warsaw in partitioned Poland,[3] and became a tailor.[1] His mother, Dora (née Grisinsky,[1] 1873–1964), came from Kovno, partitioned Poland. His parents met in Baltimore, Maryland, and moved to Chicago before Goodman's birth. With little income and a large family, they moved to the low-rent Maxwell Street neighborhood, an overcrowded slum near the railroad yards and surrounding factories, populated mostly by Irish, German, Scandinavian, Italian, Polish, and Jewish immigrants.[4] Chicago social activist Jane Addams described the surroundings:

The streets are inexpressibly dirty, the number of schools inadequate, sanitary legislation unenforced, the street lighting bad, the paving miserable and altogether lacking in the alleys and smaller streets, and the stables foul beyond description. Hundreds of houses are unconnected with the street sewer."[5]

Money was a constant problem in the family. Goodman's father earned at most $20 per week. On Sundays, his father took the children to free band concerts in Douglas Park, which was the first time Goodman experienced live professional performances.[6] To give his children some skills and an appreciation for music, his father enrolled ten-year-old Goodman and two of his brothers in music lessons at the Kehelah Jacob Synagogue, which charged his father only 25¢ per lesson, including the use of the synagogue's instruments.[7]

"Playing music was a great escape for me from the poverty. I wanted to do something with myself. And the music was a great form for me. I was absolutely fascinated by it. So I set out at an early age to do what I could—and devote my efforts to it, and enjoy it."

Goodman, in a 1975 interview[4]

The following year Goodman joined the boys club band at Jane Addams's Hull House, where he received lessons from the director James Sylvester for a small cost. By joining the band, he was entitled to spend two weeks at a summer camp about 50 miles (80 km) from Chicago. It was the only time he was able to get away from the bleak environment of his urban neighborhood.[8]

He also received two years of instruction from the classically trained clarinetist Franz Schoepp.[9] His early influences were New Orleans jazz clarinetists working in Chicago, notably Johnny Dodds, Leon Roppolo and Jimmie Noone.[10] Goodman learned quickly, becoming a strong player at an early age and soon playing professionally in various bands.[11]

Goodman made his professional debut in 1921 at the Central Park Theater on Chicago's West Side. He entered Harrison Technical High School in Chicago in 1922. He joined the musicians’ union in 1923 and by the age of 14 was in a band featuring Bix Beiderbecke.[12] Goodman attended Lewis Institute (now Illinois Institute of Technology) in 1924 as a high-school sophomore, while also playing the clarinet in a dance hall band. (He was awarded an honorary LL.D. from IIT in 1968.)

When Goodman was 16, he joined one of Chicago's top bands, the Ben Pollack Orchestra, with which he made his first recordings in 1926.[10] When he was 17, his father was killed by a passing car after stepping off a streetcar.[13] His father's death was "the saddest thing that ever happened in our family," Goodman said.[14]

Goodman made his first record under his own name for Vocalion two years later. He recorded with the regular Pollack band and smaller groups drawn from the orchestra through 1929. The side sessions produced scores of sides recorded for the various dimestore record labels under an array of group names, including Mills' Musical Clowns, Goody's Good Timers, the Hotsy Totsy Gang, Jimmy Backen's Toe Ticklers, Dixie Daisies, and Kentucky Grasshoppers.[citation needed]

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беларуская: Бені Гудмен
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עברית: בני גודמן
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македонски: Бени Гудман
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русский: Гудмен, Бенни
Simple English: Benny Goodman
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slovenščina: Benny Goodman
српски / srpski: Бени Гудман
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Türkçe: Benny Goodman
українська: Бенні Гудмен