Saturday, January 27, 2007

Recommendations of Benny Goodman biographies by jazz historian John Tumpak

Much has been written about jazz legend Benny Goodman who is credited for kicking off the Big Band Era at his August 1935 engagement at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. A Google search verifies the voluminous amount of available material on the pioneering clarinetist. However, two fairly recent books thoroughly cover Goodman's career in music, his idiosyncratic personality, and his private life. They stand out as the best available.

The first is Benny Goodman and the Swing Era by James Lincoln Collier, published in 1989. The second is Swing Swing Swing by Ross Firestone, published in 1993. Both give in-depth treatment to Benny Goodman. However, musicologist Collier's book also covers the rise of the American dance band along with a seldom found examination of the impact of Ben Pollock, who first hired Goodman, on the Era. Both are recommended for a penetrating insight into Benny Goodman and his prodigious body of work.

John Tumpak will be presenting a Tribute to Benny Goodman at Brand Library on Saturday, May 19 at 2:00pm.

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