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The Centennial Collection

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Album Review

What makes the Benny Goodman chapter in the RCA/Bluebird Centennial Collection series worthwhile is, in this case, the bonus DVD. While every volume in the series has one, Goodman and his bands were used by Hollywood more than most bands from the late 1930s and early '40s, and the stuff on here is prime, as well as the footage of later performances in the mid- '60s. Sure, the CD has good sound and the hits are all here, but the DVD has performances dating from the classic Victor era quartet as well as the orchestra. There are 12 selections on the DVD. The first is almost worth the price of admission on its own. Playing a medley of "I've Got a Heartful of Music," "Avalon," and "House Hop," this film was issued as a short in its own right as a part of a tribute to Will Rogers. Along with killer close-ups of Goodman, we also get Gene Krupa and Harry Carney in fine swinging style. There are three tunes that come from the 1942 film The Powers Girl, and feature the quintet playing "I Know That You Know," as well as the orchestra ripping it up on "One O'Clock Jump," and "Roll 'Em." The classic trailer form the 1943 picture Gang's All Here is included, as well as some cool network TV performances from 1960 with Red Norvo, and then there's the greatest of all the Goodman footage in "Why Don't You Do Right," with a young Peggy Lee in Stage Door Canteen, plus a great clip of the title cut from Bugle Call Rag. There is also an interview wit Goodman in audio-only to wind up the set, but in all it totals a fine collection — one that fans need — and serves as an amazing historical introduction to the great bandleader.

Biography

Born: May 30, 1909 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Benny Goodman was the first celebrated bandleader of the Swing Era, dubbed "The King of Swing," his popular emergence marking the beginning of the era. He was an accomplished clarinetist whose distinctive playing gave an identity both to his big band and to the smaller units he led simultaneously. The most popular figure of the first few years of the Swing Era, he continued to perform until his death 50 years later. Goodman was the son of Russian immigrants David Goodman, a tailor, and Dora Rezinsky...
Full Bio