446

Benny Goodman: Bangkok Concerts 1956

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The King of Swing plays it safe on this concert date, recorded in December ’56 during the first stop on a Far Eastern tour, departing from his tried–and–true repertoire only twice — to play songs written by another King and Benny’s host, His Majesty King Bhumiphal Aduljadet, who besides being ruler of Thailand was a saxophonist, composer and ardent Jazz fan. A command performance, one might say. Before his band took the stage, Goodman gave permission to a friend, Kurt Mueller, to record the concert on a borrowed tape machine. Although the setup was primitive and only two mics were used, the sound is surprisingly clean and sharp with only an occasional glitch and hardly any annoying background noise. According to the liner notes, a train came by about every four minutes blowing its whistle but the band must have drowned it out, as I heard neither train nor whistle. This was Goodman’s first big band in seven years, but as always, he hired the best available sidemen, and everyone is on the same page. Of course, this is music most of them could have played in their sleep. The program consists almost entirely of such Goodman and Swing Era favorites as “Don’t Be That Way,” “King Porter Stomp,” Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump,” “Flying Home,” Oh, Lady Be Good,” “Stompin’ at the Savoy” and so on. Fletcher Henderson is represented by “Down South Camp Meeting” and “Big John Special,” King Oliver / Louis Armstrong by “Sugar Foot Stomp.” Not as well known is bassist Israel Crosby’s charming feature, “Trigger Fantasy.” H.M. Bhumiphal’s two songs — “In the Evening,” “Falling Rain” — are actually pretty good, and I’m not just saying that because his heirs could probably have me beheaded if I didn’t. Apparently, the monarch listened closely to swing music and was an apt student. Unfortunately, the first of his songs is the most poorly recorded track on the disc with uneven sound levels and annoying distortion throughout. This was a topnotch band with a world–class rhythm section (Crosby, pianist Hank Jones, drummer Mousey Alexander) and a number of enterprising soloists including trumpeter Mel Davis, trombonists Rex Peer and Jack Rains, saxophonists Peanuts Hucko and Budd Johnson, and of course the King himself (Benny, not Bhumiphal) on clarinet. Benny plays with rhythm only on “Lady Be Good” and “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise.” Goodman’s tour, co–sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the international exchange program of the American National Theatre and Academy, came shortly after the release of the film The Benny Goodman Story, in which Steve Allen portrayed the King (Benny, not Bhumiphal). TCB Records says the material is previously unreleased, so fans of the Swing Era in general and Goodman in particular will probably want a copy. They won’t be disappointed; this is vintage Goodman.

Track listing: Let’s Dance; Don’t Be That Way; King Porter Stomp; Trigger Fantasy; Roll ’Em; One O’Clock Jump; Down South Camp Meeting; Yarm Yen / In the Evening; Sugar Foot Stomp; Big John Special; Flying Home; The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise; Oh Lady Be Good; Sai Fon / Falling Rain; Stompin’ at the Savoy; Thai Royal Anthem (63:18).


Personnel:

Benny Goodman, leader, clarinet; Mel Davis, John Frosk, Billy Hodges, trumpet; Rex Peer, Jack Rains, trombone; Peanuts Hucko, Al Black, Budd Johnson, Bill Slapin, reeds; Hank Jones, piano; Israel Crosby, bass; Mousey Alexander, drums.

Contact: TCB Music SA, Grand

Title: Bangkok Concerts 1956 | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: TCB Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Dedication CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Surface of Inscription CD/LP/Track Review Surface of Inscription
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 21, 2017
Read The Treasury Shows, Vol. 24 CD/LP/Track Review The Treasury Shows, Vol. 24
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Aleka CD/LP/Track Review Aleka
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Alto Gusto CD/LP/Track Review Alto Gusto
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Flow CD/LP/Track Review Flow
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "Air and Light and Time and Space" CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011" CD/LP/Track Review 3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Lookin' East" CD/LP/Track Review Lookin' East
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "Witchy Feelin'" CD/LP/Track Review Witchy Feelin'
by Doug Collette
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "Ask Seek Knock" CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor