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King of Swing | Benny Goodman

Classical Academy | Composers | Performers | Jazz & Blues | Instruments


Who's the King of Swing? Well that's got to be Benny Goodman. Head of one of the most popular musical groups in America, Benny's dynamic melodies on his legendary clarinet used to get everybody dancing - and indeed they still do. Not only that, but in an era of segregation in the United State, his jazz group was well known as one of the most racially-integrated bands.


In 1938 Goodman gave a huge concert in Carnegie Hall in New York CIty. Music critic Bruce Elder describes this as "the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history: jazz's 'coming out' party to the world of 'respectable' music." The idea came from Goodman's publicist who saw a good opportunity to make Goodman the first jazz bandleader to perform at Carnegie Hall. Selling out weeks before it was schedule, the band chose a lineup of songs that reflected the history of jazz. By the time the band struck up with the climactic piece, Sing, Sing Sing, the audience were eating out of their hands.


This was a hugely critical moment for jazz: the musical form had finally been accept by mainstream audiences, all thanks to Goodman and his band. Listen to one of music history's most remarkable events on this recording of the Carnegie Hall concert.