Carnegie update version 1-3



Carnegie update version 1-3
For my brother Bob.
This is a supplement to:
Benny Goodman – The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert.
By Jon Hancock.
ISBN 978-0-9562404-0-8
Available to download from:
Text Copyright © 2016 Jon Hancock.
[email protected]
Illustrations copyrighted as marked.
First published in the UK in 2016
by Prancing Fish Publishing Ltd.
The information in this booklet is true and complete to the best of our knowledge.
All recommendations are made without any guarantee on the part of the publisher, who
also disclaims any liability incurred in connection with the use of this data or specific
All rights reserved.
Version 1.3
The Famous 1938
ollecting together evidenced facts for any research of this type is a
time consuming endeavour. It was always my goal to present an
accurate depiction of the events that took place in those months
leading up to Benny Goodman’s famous concert and the concert
itself. An enormous amount had been written about this concert that we love
so much, but it seemed to me that the same few stories were being repeated
over and over.
Like so many people, that concert
grabbed hold of me when I first heard it in the late 1950’s
and it won’t let me go. The music still enchants. Once
you embark on this type of thing it’s difficult to stop and
ever since my book was published in 2009, I have
continued to scour archives, books and magazines for
‘new’ material.
Over the last few years I have received hundreds of emails
from Goodman fans located all over the world, many of
whom have told me versions of the same touching story,
“My Dad played me the records when I was a kid and I
have loved them ever since”. I am always delighted to
hear from fans of Benny Goodman and some true nuggets
of information have come from these Goodmanites - I
thank you all once again. It has been great fun and I
have made some very good friends along the way.
Together we have increased the sum of knowledge on this
remarkable event.
Benny was a great clarinet player, probably the best of his
era, but you need more than that to be successful. To
build on his early successes, Benny had assembled a crack
team of publicity and media experts to escort him, like
Sherpas on to the very pinnacle of his career. The Goodman organisation was
a family affair too. In those days, Benny’s sister Ethel was the grand ringmaster
for the Goodman orchestra.
She made sure that the band were fed and
watered and she also supervised the running of the accounts, Ethel handled all
of the money that came in and went out. It takes a huge amount of stamina
There are still a few
copies available!
The LP cover is reproduced courtesy of Sony BMG Music Entertainment.
to keep up the phenomenal work rate that swing bands of the 1930’s
used to achieve. The number of performances they gave was far
greater than those listed in the discographies, sometimes five or 6
shows a day. That is almost superhuman. It is no wonder that there
were so many personnel changes in those heady days.
Keeping track of all this is challenging, but fun. It is so rewarding to
find a long forgotten snippet lurking on page 9 of an obscure local
paper or magazine and slotting it neatly into the jigsaw of orphaned
cuttings and stories that I keep filed away, just in case.
Here, I have tried to piece together all of the ‘new’ material in
chronological order and publish it as an update to my book. I am
assuming that you have read the book but it is not essential for your
enjoyment of this missive. One day I might put it all together as a
glossy ‘deluxe’ edition of the book, possibly with a CD too, but that’s
an expensive business! I might just launch it as an ‘e-book’. In the
meantime time, I hope you will enjoy these odds and ends which I
think will help us to understand what was happening in the kingdom
of swing all those years ago.
My research would not have been possible without the help of many
friends and acquaintances who have freely offered their expertise
over the last few years to help make this possible. There will be some
who I have unintentionally missed, but I am indebted to: George
Avakian, Fred Cains, David Jessup, Brooks Tegler, Gino Francesconi,
Earl Caustin, Carl Hallström, Ricky Riccardi, Fernando Ortiz de Urbina,
Doug Pomeroy, John McDonough, Arthur Newman, Peter Manders,
Mark Cantor and also Loren Schoenberg for giving me access to
Ross Firestone’s interview recording with Bill Savory.
My family
deserve a mention too for coping with my lunacy!
January 16, 1938 - The
Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
I’m very much looking
forward to the demo!
et us begun in July 1937, here is a little more on the subject of the
illusive ‘Wynn’ Nathanson as he joins the Tom Fizdale agency.
Research for my book lead me to all sorts of places but throughout the
course of my investigations, I could un-earth precious little about the
famed publicity agent Wynn Nathanson. Irving Kolodin’s liner notes tell us that
it was Nathanson who came up with the idea of staging a swing concert in
Carnegie Hall featuring Goodman’s band.
I started to wonder whether
Nathanson ever existed, perhaps just a made-up character, invented to
embellish a good story? These days, there is a lot more material available to
researchers and I made a small breakthrough by establishing that his Christian
name was in fact Irwin. Armed with this information I was quickly able to find
out a little more. Nathanson joined the Tom Fizdale Agency in the summer of
1937. In October 1937, Fizdale merged its business with the Robert Taplinger
Agency and absorbed a huge portfolio of nationally famous clients, a list which
included Benny Goodman. The newly formed Tom Fizdale Inc. moved into the
Taplinger office in New York. They also had offices in Hollywood, Chicago and
London, from where they worked their publicity magic. So, in late November
1937, when Nathanson suggested taking Goodman into Carnegie Hall, he had
only been working with Goodman for barely a month. He certainly made his
mark early! Nathanson went on to head the agency and in 1947, Fizdale
changed its name to Win Nathanson and Associates. It seems Nathanson
retired from the publicity business early to go back to college to study
I started research in earnest on my book in around 2005. In the intervening
years, I have been able to understand better the relationship between the key
people who worked on Goodman’s first Carnegie Hall concert. A short list of
these people would include: Win Nathanson, Savington Crampton, Bill
Goodwin, Sol Hurok, Willard Allexander and John Hammond. I was correct in
saying that Crampton played a major role in developing Goodman’s on-air
presence. He was a radio producer at the William Esty Agency - who held the
Camel cigarettes account - and it was Crampton who produced the Camel
Caravan Radio shows. Bill Goodwin, the Master of Ceremonies we hear on
the Camel shows, had been a CBS Hollywood announcer and producer in his
own right. Bill Goodwin had been hired by The Esty Agency as assistant to
Crampton in July 1937.
It was the Esty Agency who later sponsored the
Carnegie Hall concert and Crampton produced it. The impresario Sol Hurok
and his publicist Gerald Goode had the reputation and contacts to open the
doors of Carnegie Hall to the Goodman band. Hurok also liaised with Willard
Alexander, Benny’s manager at the MCA booking agency. John Hammond
was involved with the programme notes and proposed the inclusion of guest
musicians from the Basie and Ellington bands.
August 3 1937 – Camel Caravan rehearsals.
The first few Swing School shows were broadcast from California where the
Goodman band were busy filming Hollywood Hotel.
That was a heavy
schedule, an 8 o’clock start at the Warner Brothers studio for the first camera
call (It was Ethel’s job to get them there on time.) and then, after a day in the
film studios, they decamped en masse and moved to the Palomar Ballroom for
the evening, they were performing and broadcasting 5 nights a week until 1.00
in the morning.
In August 1937, Screen & Radio Weekly, a Sunday supplement magazine,
published an unusual account of a rehearsal for an early Camel Caravan
Swing School which aired on August 3rd. Savington Crampton had recently
been put in charge of Esty’s Hollywood offices, so he was personally able to
lead the production of those early programmes. Crampton’s authority is clear
in this article. Martha Tilton and Bill Goodwin also lived in California and they
were friends before Tilton became Goodman’s vocalist. It was Goodwin who
suggested that she audition for Goodman.
Her first Swing School was on
August 24 1937 where she was affectionately referred to as ‘our pet freshman’.
There is an engaging account of Martha’s audition with Goodman in the
August 1938 issue of ‘Love and Romance’ magazine.
August 1937
Savington Crampton hired James Bloodworth as scriptwriter for the Swing
School. Bloodworth went on to be a well-known screen writer, in later years he
also played some minor roles on screen.
November 11 1937 - LIFE magazine
In response to the photo-article in Life Magazine the week before, Goodman
wrote a letter to the magazine with a correction about Teddy Wilson and Lionel
Hampton being members of only the Quartet and not the full band. They also
published an autographed, hand written manuscript page of Harry James’
tribute to the magazine, ‘Life Goes to a Party’. I wonder where that is now?!
December 7 1937 – Movie News Daily
Martha Tilton completed work on her first film, a short for Columbia entitled
‘Topper’ in which Martha appears.
The film starred Cary Grant and
Constance Bennett. Martha appeared briefly with her vocal group Three Hits
and a Miss. She also dubbed some of the singing voice-overs.
How about this for hype!Sol Hurok’s publicity flyer
for the concert.
Courtesy: Carnegie Hall
December 7 1937 - NY Sun
We can push back the date of the first announcement of the Carnegie
concert to December 7 1937. I had originally suggested that the first press
releases went out on the December 11. Irving Kolodin was the music critic for
the New York Sun and, as we know from the original LP liner notes, Kolodin was
in Sol Hurok’s office on the day that the idea for a concert was first discussed.
No surprise then that it was the NY Sun which had the ‘scoop’ on the story.
The newspaper states that Carnegie Hall will host the first swing concert in its
history on January 16 1938 and plans were being advanced for various
musicians to appear as guest artists. A selection of names come up in the
press including Mary Lou Williams, Joe Turner, Beatrice Lillie and W C Handy.
The eventual line-up for the night ended up looking like a who’s who of jazz in
the 1930’s.
December 1937 - Spanish Loyalists – George Avakian.
In 2010, I was thrilled to be able to spend the afternoon talking to the
legendary record producer George Avakian at his home in New York. We sat
and chatted about the BG era whilst sipping a lovely bottle of Single Malt
which I had brought over from the UK. George’s memories of the swing era
came flooding back as I sat spellbound with my portable recorder running.
The afternoon was full of stories and I
was just about rolling on the floor with
laughter when George told me about
his encounter with a group of Spanish
Loyalists in 1937. It went like this:
As a school boy, George Avakian was
the editor of the Horace Mann Record,
the weekly newspaper of the Horace
Mann School for Boys in New York City.
Late in 1936, George had given himself
the assignment of interviewing Benny
Goodman and the band for a lengthy
article published on 25 November of
that year.
Benny liked it, he was
impressed that somebody was writing
about his music and not the gossip. It
was through that article that George
became friends with Dwight Chapin, then Benny Goodman’s assistant. Only
Dwight could arrange back-stage visits to the band. When word got round
that George had written an intelligent review of the band’s climb to fame,
George was given an open invitation to attend rehearsals and mingle with the
musicians (with the permission of his parents of course!).
George Avakian
and me at Doug
Pomeroy’s apartment
in Brooklyn. Doug’s
studio is up those stairs.
George remembers one occasion when Benny had been invited to play a
benefit for the Spanish Loyalists who had come to New York to raise money for
their cause. George explained:
During that period, which was my senior year at Horace Mann of course, my
school friend, Charlie Miller, and I used to hang around and help Chapin with
odds and ends. One very snowy night, Chape said,
“Look, the Quartet is playing a benefit for the Spanish Loyalists, the anti-Franco
people, up in Columbus Circle and I need some help to pack the drums and
vibraphone to get them up there. Would you guys help me?”
Of course, we said, “Sure, delighted!“
back of the taxi and Chapin said,
We strapped the vibraphone to the
“Look, the three of us will go up there and the musicians will follow in about
fifteen minutes.”
Unfortunately, as I was un-strapping the vibraphone, I cut my thumb on the
sharp metal frame and it started to bleed. Chape took a white handkerchief
from his pocket – because everybody was well-dressed around the band,
including the band.- and wrapped it around my hand and said,
“You go on up, take Benny’s clarinet and tell the people that we’ll be up in a
minute with the vibraphone and drums.”
So he and Charlie schlepped the vibraphone and drums after me.
remember seeing the frames of the door in this beat up old tenement building
on the second floor. I knocked at the door, which was open, out came a rush
of cigarette smoke like you can’t believe, and the loud noise of drunken
Spaniards. I had the clarinet, I didn’t speak Spanish of course, but when
Chape arrived I was being mobbed by these people and finally I was lifted up
and put on a table. Chapin said,
“They saw you with the clarinet and they think that you’re Benny Goodman so
act the part until Benny comes!”
So here I am, standing on this table and Charlie and Chape are having a ball
laughing at me. There was one gorgeous girl who looked a little like Ava
Gardner with a low cut dress and a red flower in her hair - she was like ‘Miss
Spanish Loyalist of 1937’. She poured me a drink of what I assumed was a
tumbler of red wine, then people were starting to shout and holler and yell at
me, and Chapin said
“Well, they still think you’re Benny and you’re going to be toasted and you
have to give a toast back.” I said “I don’t know Spanish!” He said, “It’s very
easy, after they have raised a toast to you, just raise your glass and say “Muerte
a Franco” which means death to Franco.”
I was a sensation! When I took that first slug, I took a big swallow and I nearly
died because it was neat Brandy. It damn near killed me!
laughing because I’m choking on it. So there I was, standing on a table,
holding Benny’s Clarinet and everybody is chanting “Benny Goodman, Benny
Goodman” and then in comes Benny and my masquerade ended right there!
I don’t remember what the quartet played, they just played a couple of
numbers and split. Benny wasn’t a political person but certainly would have
done something for the Spanish Loyalists.
The original photo outside of Carnegie
Hall in 1937/8
Here, I have corrected the perspective
to square it up.
This is a still from the newsreel film.
Have a look a the first letters of Benny
Goodman and his Swing Orchestra.
They appear to be a lighter colour. I
am guessing that they were red, but
they could have been grey, or blue or
any other colour.
On the next page I have mocked-up a
poster showing how the original poster
may have looked.
The quest for the Carnegie Hall
concert poster! One of the things
that I was never able to find whilst
researching my book was the poster
that can be seen in photographs
taken in 1938. Unfortunately, there
were probably only ever two or three
of these posters ever printed, one
outside the hall and one above the
box office window. In those days
the ‘three-sheet’ poster was exactly
that, three separate sheets of
paper stapled or nailed into the
back of the poster case. My good
friend Gino Francesconi, the archivist
at Carnegie Hall told me “I used to
watch it myself when the guy putting
up a new one would just staple on
top of the old one or rip them
down!” Given that there were so
few printed and that they used to be
routinely discarded, the chances of
finding the original poster are pretty
remote, but that’s not to say that the
poster isn’t somewhere out there!
Looking at the photographs, it seems
quite clear to me that the original
poster was printed in two colours.
Studying contemporary posters, red
seems to be the most predominant
colour used. They were all printed
by the same company and using a
standard format.
To see how it
might have looked to passers-by in
1938, I have reproduced the poster
here using black and red, it looks
quite eye catching!
The Carnegie Hall poster in its full
colour glory! You couldn’t possibly
miss that if you were walking down
7th Avenue in January 1938.
December 30 1937
Goodman was offered $100,000 for a 3 year exclusive contract with Brunswick
Records. Benny chose to stay with RCA-Victor until May of 1939. From there
he moved over to Columbia records where he stayed until 1946.
Courtesy: Carnegie Hall Archives
January 6 1938.
Reports early in January suggested that Benny was rehearsing daily for the
concert. I deduced in my book that on Thursday 6 January Benny’s band had
assembled at Carnegie Hall for a rehearsal. John Totton, the stage manager
at Carnegie Hall, got the band to sign autographs, but four members of the
band are conspicuous by their absence, James, Wilson, Krupa and Reuss.
Both Harry and Teddy were in the recording studios that day, James with his
own band and Wilson with Billie Holiday. I believe that Gene Krupa was sick
and Reuss is unaccounted for. Writing in Screen & Radio Weekly, Jack Sher
mentions a lad who was trying to blag a backstage pass whilst the band were
rehearsing at Carnegie that Thursday, which was January 6th, confirming that
the band were indeed rehearsing that day.
One of the rehearsal
sessions at Carnegie Hall.
Babe Russin, Benny, Krupa,
Freddie Green and Walter
January 14 1938 – Gene Krupa
It has always been suggested that Krupa left the Benny Goodman Orchestra in
March 1938 as a result of a very public argument on stage at the Earl Theatre in
There is no doubt that the argument took place but it only
served to hasten Gene’s departure by a few weeks. It seems that Gene had
been planning to leave Benny for at least a couple of months. I mentioned
two stories that cropped up in the press in
January 1938 concerning Gene’s plans to
leave and start his own band. It was even
announced that Goodman himself would help
finance the venture. Further confirmation of
this plan was published in the Long Island Daily
Press on the January 14 1938, explaining that
Gene will leave Goodman in April to front his
own band. There seems little doubt that Benny
would have known about Gene’s imminent
career move, up to band leader, even before
the Carnegie Hall concert.
There were
comments starting to appear in the press that
young fans were mobbing Goodman shows
just to see Krupa, not Goodman. The writing
was on the wall and Benny knew it.
January 15 1938 - RCA Victor ad
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found this
advert in the New York Sun. Dated 15 January
1938, this is the day before Goodman’s famous
concert at Carnegie Hall and look who is
promoting Goodman’s records on the back of
that concert….. RCA-Victor!
As we now all
know, it was Columbia Records who issued the
concert in 1950 and shortly after the records
went on sale, there was some pretty lively
discussion between Columbia and RCA Victor
as to who owned the rights to the recordings.
First reports of this cropped up in The Billboard
Magazine in January 1951. RCA-Victor had an
exclusive contract with Goodman in 1938
when the concert was recorded and they felt
justifiably aggrieved that Goodman had sold
the rights of the concert to Columbia Records.
George Avakian was the director of popular
music at Columbia at the time and he
explained to me how they resolved this
delicate situation. The solution came from a
loophole in the RCA contract itself. The contract only covered studio recordings, RCA
had no right to prevent Goodman from making live recordings. Goodman signed
with RCA-Victor in 1935, since nobody really made live records in those days it would
not have seemed important to cover that eventuality in the contract. Early in 1951,
neither party would have known how phenomenally successful the records were to
become. Couple that with the fact that Columbia had already paid the American
Federation of Musicians in the region of $10,000, calculated on basis of scale for every
3 minutes of performance. It wouldn’t really be feasible to withdraw the records, they
had to find a workable solution.
As it happens, RCA wanted to use a live
recording they had recently made which
included one of Columbia’s opera stars,
Richard Tucker, a leading tenor at the
Metropolitan Opera.
This live performance
was conducted by Toscanini.
So it was
agreed to make a reciprocal arrangement
where RCA could issue Tucker’s recording if
Columbia could issue Goodman’s.
It was
agreed and they spoke no more about it.
If it wasn’t for the fact that Columbia and RCA
are now one and the same thing, I’m sure this
ad would re-ignite the issue!
January 16 1938 - How was the concert
In chapters 19 and 20 in the book I discussed
how the concert might have been recorded.
I can add a little more to that topic here.
Albert Marx, Jess Stacy, Martha Tilton and a
host of other Goodman alumni and experts
were special guests at the IAJRC convention
in California in August 1987. In a session on
the Carnegie concert at the convention,
Albert and Jess Stacy spoke in detail about
their recollections of the Carnegie concert
and how the recordings came to be made.
The convention was a memorial tribute
dedicated to BG, who had recently died, and
it was chaired by Wayne Knight.
readers might remember Wayne’s great series
of Camel Caravan LP’s issued in the1980’s,
many of which had liner notes by John
McDonough. John has kindly sent me some of his photos especially for this update.
I was fortunate to bump into Peter Manders recently at a re-creation of the Carnegie
concert given by Pete Long and his ‘Goodmen’ orchestra in Malvern, UK Peter is a
talented artist and caricaturist, he attended the 1987 conference and drew many of the
delegates as they sat on the various panels. You can see his sketches reproduced in
the October 1987 IAJRC Journal report on the event.
Peter fondly remembered
meeting Albert and Jess at the convention and he told of how he went to Albert’s house
afterwards. They talked long into the night and Albert showed him the photographs
that his brother Lawrence took at Carnegie. Peter gave me a copy of his drawing of
Albert which I have included here.
Peter Manders’
caricature of Albert
Marx from the IAJRC
convention in 1987.
I am indebted to Lee Cohen in California who got in touch regarding his good friend
Albert Marx.
Albert had commissioned Harry Smith to make the recordings of the
concert. Lee had responded to a request that I had posted on my website asking the
identity of an unknown man photographed with BG backstage at Carnegie Hall. (Page
122) Lee is quite sure that the man in the photo is Albert Marx. We know from the
report in Down Beat Magazine that Albert’s wife Helen
Ward and their new baby, were there back stage on
the night. Lee kindly sent me a photograph of Albert
taken in the 1970’s and it certainly does look like the
man with Goodman at Carnegie.
Lee and I also talked about how the concert could
have been recorded.
At the time of the IAJRC
convention 1987, detailed information about how the
LP’s came to be recorded was still largely unknown.
John Hammond said, at Benny’s Carnegie reunion in
1968, that it was Zeke Frank who recorded it from his
studio within Carnegie Hall itself.
(There is a large
complex of apartments, workshops and studios there.)
We now know that not to be the case.
had explained that he had instructed Harry Smith to
record the concert. At that time, Harry had studios at
156 W44th Street, about 10 blocks from Carnegie Hall.
Lee told me last year of how Albert remembered the
events in the 1970’s. Albert said then that Harry Smith
literally strung up cables down the street to the
recording machines in his studio.
There already was an established way to record from
Carnegie Hall using broadcast quality telephone lines
linked to Columbia Broadcasting System master control. The term telephone lines is perhaps misleading.
These were broadcast quality lines capable of
carrying a very high quality signal. Many of the small
studios had lines to CBS master control and all they
had to do to make a recording was arrange to be
patched in. (It is worth noting here that CBS at that
time was not the same company as Columbia
records.) Harry Smith’s work was mainly in the classical field. He had strong links with Carnegie Hall and
Town Hall from where he often made classical
recordings. He had a thriving business making demos
and test records for orchestras and band-leaders.
The control booth at Carnegie Hall was built in 1930 by
CBS, at which time they also installed the single microphone suspended over
row ‘H’! The booth was situated backstage where sound engineers could
monitor performances at the console and balance things ready for broadcast.
In the early 1930’s, 9 million people used to tune–in to the New York
Philharmonic on Sundays, broadcast live from Carnegie Hall.
The suggestion from Lee was that the powerful trade unions at Carnegie,
would not have allowed their equipment to be used for a private recording.
Lee had been at Albert’s house on many occasions in the 1970’s and on at
least one occasion, he was there with Wayne Knight. Both Lee and Wayne
The building where Harry
Smith had his studios in
1938. Photographed in
A few people have asked about the photo montage that appears on the back cover of the book, a version
of which is shown here. The photo is a montage of the 3 photos shown at the top, with a lot of stretching
and warping to make the ceiling line match. It took a long time but I think the result is quite pleasing. The
event shown here never actually happened but it is pretty close to the real thing which is depicted in grainy
shot above. That shot is interesting in itself, because it shows very clearly the single microphone hanging high
above the band.
confirm that Albert was sure that cables were installed especially
for that recording.
This idea seems implausible to me, the cables would have to
cross too many road junctions. Harry Smith could have used a
studio which was much closer, as there were a few more
convenient studios in the area at that time. I think the clincher
for me is the fact that the Universal labels on the acetates that
were retrieved from BG’s closet in 1950, have ‘CBS’ typed on
them, indicating the source. In other words, they were recorded
using the CBS feed. The microphone that Martha used on stage
in the second half of the concert had the CBS logo emblazoned
on it. I would say that it was ‘probably definitely‘ recorded using
the standard CBS lines….but I could be wrong!!
January 16 1938
The well-known Hollywood actor Douglass Montgomery was at
the concert. A review from Screen & Radio weekly said he was
bobbing up and down with the natural enthusiasm of a jitterbug.
The reviewer also noted that the gyrations of the press at times
surpassed that of the band!
January 17 New York post - Standing room only!
I have tried to pin down exactly when the concert sold out,
Variety magazine reported a ‘virtual sellout’ in their 12 January
edition and that would have gone to press a few days before.
A Photo published in New York Post the day after the concert
shows fans in line outside of Carnegie Hall, waiting for standing
room tickets. The general consensus seems to be that there
were about 200 people crammed in at the back. A report in the Times-Union
suggests that the lucky few who got those golden standing tickets were six
deep at the back of the hall.
Later in the month, when the numbers were tallied up, it was reported that
7500 people had tried to get tickets and were turned away! I was sceptical,
at least 2 newspapers carried the story, so it must have come from somewhere.
I am not sure that the Carnegie Hall box office would have been keeping track
of this kind of information. However, when we consider that just 10 days later,
25,000 people saw Benny and the band play at the Paramount theatre on the
first day of a 3 week run, then the figure of 7500 fans turned away in the last
few days before the Carnegie concert seems quite probable. That might still
be some kind of record too.
Top: The Universal label on
the acetates discs used for
the original 1950 release
and the 1999 re-issue. Note
‘CBS’ typed in as the station.
Bottom: Martha Tilton
singing to the CBS
microphone at Carnegie.
January 21 1938 – RKO Pathe Newsreel release.
For a long time now, I have been trying to find out more about the newsreel
footage of Benny Goodman’s first Carnegie Hall concert. Could there be
some additional footage languishing in an archive somewhere? There are
various stills from the film in my book and on my Facebook page. According
to Motion Picture Daily of 21 January 1938, the latest RKO Pathe newsreel to be
released (Vol 9 No 53), included the footage of BG at Carnegie Hall. Up until
now, I have never seen this footage with the titles intact. My good friend Earl
Caustin mentioned my quest to the jazz film expert, Mark Cantor. (He has a
wonderful Youtube channel!) Mark very kindly looked out his copy of the film,
transferred it to DVD, and sent it over to me. I was very excited to see the
opening title intact for the first time.
I had always assumed that this newsreel was silent, so I was interested to see
that the film had a soundtrack with a commentary by Andre Baruch. I am not
an expert on the capabilities of newsreel cameras in 1938.
There were
certainly newsreel films made at that time with ‘live’ sound. Is it possible that
the original Carnegie Hall newsreel film had music recorded that evening? A
review of the film in Variety Magazine in January 1938 says that the Pathé
coverage “is good though the camerawork isn’t tops and the sound is
uneven”. Is there anybody out there reading this who has a copy of this film
with the original sound? I would love to see it and hear it.
The title page from the
RKO Newsreel. From Mark
Cantor’s collection.
In the absence of the original soundtrack, I set about trying to synchronise the
film with the Columbia recordings. In total, the running time for the newsreel is
only just over one minute.
The film was shot from various locations within
Carnegie Hall, much to the annoyance of the audience who gave a public
library “Shusssh” to the noisy camera man during the quiet passages of music.
The finished product as seen in movie theatres in 1938 is an edited version of
the concert that night. It is only possible to synchronise the music with small
section of the film. The film finishes with Sing Sing Sing and so I chose that track
as the basis for my compilation. By using photographs taken that night, I
managed to stretch the 1 minute newsreel to over 8 minutes. Some of it,
especially the ending, is synchronised perfectly. You can watch the movie on Youtube,
there is a link to it on my website. So far my little film has had over
January 20 1938
Sometime around the 20 January, Goodman and the band went off to Miami for a
vacation, according to Motion Picture Daily, their first for over two years. A report in the
Southern Israelite (Atlanta) on the 28 January, stated that Benny, ‘Daddy of Swing music’
had started work on his autobiography. It seems that the break in Florida gave him the
time to sit down and ponder on his first thirty years for his book ‘The Kingdom of Swing’,
co-written by Irving Kolodin was published by Stackpole in 1939.
May 10 1948
I am grateful to Lars Westin in Sweden for pointing out that the BG concert in Carnegie
Hall in 1948 was indefinitely postponed (cancelled). The reason given was that Benny
hadn’t yet completed his sextet – which at that time featured Stan Hasselgard on
clarinet. Ticket sales at Carnegie Hall had slumped in the 1947/48 season. This was
especially true for jazz performances. Louis
Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Kid Ory and
His Creole Jazz Band all had disappointing
turnouts at that time. It was suggested in
Downbeat magazine that the cause could
be the heavy attraction of television which
had taken its toll.
Autumn 1950
George Avakian’s recollections in 2011 of
how the concert recordings were mastered
and who was responsible for the various
aspects of the process, differ a little from that
told by Bill Savory. Savory was interviewed
by Ross Firestone in the early 1990’s for his
extensive biography on BG. Of course, it is
not surprising that when remembering events
from so long ago, events which only formed
a tiny part of long and busy careers,
memories get mixed up.
According to George, Bill was one of the
people on the Columbia staff who worked
on the creation of the LP in the late 1940’s.
His specialty was cutting the masters, he
developed the cutter heads that made the
microgroove such a big success.
experience of having Bill drop the pick-up on
the record, the first time that I heard a note
from the Goodman Concert was enough to
solidify a life-long friendship.”
Columbia’s Press release launching
the double LP in 1950.
One person at Columbia, whom I neglected to mention in my book, was mastering
engineer Paul Gordon. He was also involved in the production of the Carnegie LP.
Gordon had worked with Howard Scott on producing Columbia’s first 100 classical
LPs of the Masterworks label and it was his great experience in creating LPs from
multiple acetates that Ted Wallerstein needed for the ground breaking Goodman
release. In later years, Paul went on to form the Tin Roof Jazz Band in Connecticut.
November 4 1950 First ad for the LP (Billboard)
This Billboard Magazine carried probably the first printed advertisements for the
forthcoming LP release of the concert. It looks like the work of Columbia graphic
designer James Amos who designed the, now Iconic, blue LP cover of SL160.
Perhaps showing a tentative start to the Carnegie concert publicity campaign, the
advert features Benny’s new recording of ‘Oh Babe’ with vocals by ‘Rickey’, the
Carnegie concert is relegated to the bottom of the page which does at least
proclaim ‘A Fabulous Event in Music’.
November 6 1950
Columbia Records sent out a 9 page press release under their ‘Speaking of Records’
heading, it announced the forthcoming issue and tells some of the now well-known
stories associated with the concert. The press release also gives us an edited version
of Irving Kolodin’s liner notes.
Invitation courtesy of
John McDonough
1951 - Stacy got paid $122.51
In 2010, BearManor Media published the
book ‘Chicago Jazz and then Some – as
told by one of the original Chicagoans,
Jess Stacy’. This is a wide ranging study
by Jean Porter Dmytryk.
During the
course of the narrative, there are several
references made to the Carnegie
concert and one comment struck me as
being particularly noteworthy. In 1951, a
disc jockey brought an album into Jess
for him to autograph the cover.
was very surprised to see the title of the
Columbia Carnegie 1938 LP as he didn’t
know that it had even been recorded.
Over the next few days Jess contacted
other members of the 1938 band and
discovered that none of them knew that
it had been recorded or released as an
LP either!
The next week after his
enquiries, Jess received a cheque for
$122.51 in the mail ‘As payment for the
Columbia Records release of the 1938
Carnegie Hall concert’. Jess says in the
book “The whole thing seemed wrong
somehow, but I kept the money.”
Photographs taken at the
January 1968 reunion.
Above: Benny, Cootie,
Gene, Hymie, Lionel and
Russ Connor.
Right: Gene being Gene!
Courtesy: John McDonough
I have scribed lines across the
photos to align them at the
correct scale. Doing this
highlights the similarities and
differences between the
2015 - Krupa drum kit Smithsonian.
Comparing it with the Carnegie Hall drum.
There is an enthusiastic group on Facebook
who compare notes on drums and
drummers and there is always interesting
discussion on Krupa’s kit and in particular,
the kit that is housed at the Smithsonian
Institute in Washington.
There was a
suggestion that this was the Carnegie Hall
Drum. I prepared some illustrations for the
Facebook group, comparing photographs
of Gene Krupa’s Bass Drum heads during
the Goodman years. It is clear that this is
not the drum used at Carnegie Hall in 1938.
The drum housed at the Smithsonian
Institute is the very same drum used by
Slingerland in publicity shots taken at the
Palomar Ballroom in 1936.
The noted drummer and drum expert
Brooks Tegler is writing a book in which he
examines Krupa’s kit in forensic detail. We
eagerly await its publication.
The Palomar drum (top
half) photographed in
1936, fits perfectly with
same drum photographed
over 70 years later at the
Smithsonian Institution
(bottom half).
Brooks Tegler with the gene
Krupa’s drum at the Smithsonian
in 2012.
July 1953
Columbia starts to release BG’s Carnegie Hall recording on 45’s in 1953, if you can
find a clean copy they sound very good. My guess is that they went back to the
masters when they cut these, they have quite a raw feeling to them, slightly
different to the early LPs.
March 1954
Following their mutual arrangement with Columbia records in 1953, Philips Records
announce that they would be issuing the LP in England in 1954.
January 1968
Benny’s band was always in a state of flux as members came and went for various
The permutation that played at Carnegie Hall was only stable for a
couple of months before the next inevitable change. Strange as it may seem
now, Benny had completely lost touch with the members of his Carnegie band
and the star guests who played that night. So, when Benny decided to have a
party to celebrate the 30th anniversary at his New York apartment in 1968, he had
to send out a plea on WNEW and in the press for veterans of the concert to come
forward. In all, 14 of the 26 original Carnegie Hall veterans attended. Buck
Clayton, Jess Stacy, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, Vernon Brown, Bobby Hackett,
George Koenig, Hymie Schertzer, Art Rollini, Martha Tilton, Cootie Williams, Chris
Griffin and Ziggy Elman. John McDonough wrote a very detailed account of the
party in the March 7 1968 issue of Down Beat magazine in. Worth reading if you
can find a copy.
May 2009—Lincoln Centre NYC
2009 would have been Benny’s centennial year and to mark the occasion, the
Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra staged an extravaganza of Benny’s music led
by former Goodman band member and arranger, Bob Wilber.
The evening
featured guest appearances by Ken Peplowski and Buddy DeFranco on clarinets
and Warren Wolf on vibes. They played a variety of Goodman classics. Later that
same evening, the band, members of Benny’s family and various other special
guests got together for a birthday party upstairs in the Lincoln Center.
I had timed the launch of my book to coincide with BG’s centenary and was
fortunate to be invited to the party by Benny’s former publicist Phoebe Jacobs.
(She was at the concert in1938!) It was pretty surreal being at a party chatting to
the likes of Bob Wilber, Ken Peplowski and Victor Goines. I had a supply of books
with me and that helped me with introductions!
There was one very special guest there that evening, a man who I really wanted to
meet, the great George Avakian. His association with Benny Goodman and in
particular, the Carnegie Hall concert, is the stuff of legend. Susan Satz from the
Benny Goodman Estate, whom I had met before at Carnegie Hall, had been so
helpful during the preparation of my book and offered to introduce me to George.
I was quaking in my boots at the thought and I nervously offered to show him the
book that I was clutching. I don’t know why, but for some reason, I thought he
would be very critical of it, I was completely wrong, George was delightful. He sat
me down next to him and he went through it page by page.
As he flicked
through he would stop and say something like “Ahh, there’s Bill Savory” and launch
into a tale about his days working with Bill at Columbia
Records. It was difficult to believe that I was sitting with
one of the masterminds of jazz and popular music. He
had met Fats’ Waller and Charlie Christian, he signed
the likes of Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis. He produced
classic albums with stars of the magnitude of louis
Armstrong and Duke Ellington. It was an
evening I’ll
never forget.
The next day I flew back home to the UK and on
checking my emails I noticed a message from George.
He said how much he had enjoyed talking to me about
BG and would I like to drop by his house in The Bronx this
afternoon to talk more?! I could have kicked myself, I
almost went straight back to the airport. I did get to go
back to New York to see George in 2011.
I had spent several years researching and writing the book, which was very
rewarding. It took over my life. Now, with the book finished and published, I
was at a loose end. My wife suggested that I work towards getting the set of
acetates I have of the concert released as a CD. These acetates had come
to me from the estate of Savington Crampton, the 14 discs are dubs, made in
1938 from the original set. Savington had kept them as a souvenir of his work
with BG.
The discs had been transcribed for me and there are some
differences that I mentioned in the book. One thing that I had not done was
George Avakian
munches his way
through a huge pile
of birthday cake
whilst chatting to me
about the concert!
to gang up Sony’s latest issue by Phil Schaap
alongside Crampton’s set on a computer screen, play
them simultaneously to see how they matched.
Playing through the track ‘I Got Rhythm’ I made an
extraordinary discovery, something that nobody else
seems to have noticed in the 10 years since the
‘complete’ version was released. There are 34 bars,
about 30 seconds, of this track missing from the
Sony/Legacy issue! It’s true! There is an editing error
on the first disc which means that the section between
the ‘trick endings’ towards the end of the track has
been left out. The amusing thing is that all of the so
called restored versions, there are several of them,
have copied the same error, thus proving their
provenance back to the Sony issue. I was a couple of
weeks too late to include this new information in my
book but I was able to pass on the information to
Dave Jessup. Dave included it in his wonderful Supplemental Discography published by Scarecrow, an update to Russ Connor’s series of books.
What to do? I sent an email to George telling him the story about the missing
section and he was flabbergasted.
He told me that he had a tape in his
basement that Bill Savory had made for him in 1950, so that he could think about
the running order and timings at home. These are 10 inch tapes, at 15 ips on 4
Fairchild reels. George had copies made and sent them to me. They sound
very good to my ears and more importantly, they have the complete concert.
These tapes were made in 1950 when the acetates were still in good condition,
they contain little crackle and a lot more warmth than the later versions.
My set of dubs of the
concert. 14 discs in all.
They once belonged to
Savington Crampton
radio producer at
William Esty.
September 2013 - Probably the most significant re-issue since 1999.
BG at Carnegie Hall 1938 – Sony Music
Entertainment (Japan).
Blu-spec CD2 SICP 30223-4
I received a review copy of the new
Japanese Blu-spec CD2 , Carnegie Hall
concert in 2013 and played it through a
couple of times.
The packaging is
exactly the same as the 1999 version with
the same liner notes booklet, barring
some typographic corrections to the
early versions. The print quality is much
better than the original 1999 issue. SME Japan have used the original master
from the 1999 issue for this new format issue. The sound quality however is
different, it certainly sounds more detailed. The Japanese issues of this concert
have always been good and this is no exception. There does seem to me to be
a lot more to hear. The sound of the drums is realistic; you can feel the beautiful
warmth of those calf skins. The cymbals too have sparkle, compared to the
Bill Savory, Dave
Chertok Helen Ward
and Diane Eisese.
Jaunuary 16 1978.
Courtesy: John
‘splash’ of the earlier incarnation. The same goes for the piano, which sounds – to my
ears – a lot more rounded, full and engaging.
Some extra subtleties of the
orchestrations start to peek through as well, this is wonderful. As always, every time I
play this concert I hear something new. This Blu-spec CD2 will provide a whole new
layer of little details to discover for years to come.
But there is a downside (isn’t there always!). Again, to my ears, this extra fidelity has
brought the crackle and surface noise into even sharper focus, it is quite intrusive in
places and the overall sound of this CD is still quite shrill. That is a shame; surely there is
no need for this. And yes, we are still missing a fair chunk of ‘I Got Rhythm’.
I can’t write this without mentioning the amazing job that Harry Smith made of
recording this concert, remotely, from his studio a few blocks away from Carnegie Hall.
The original recordings cover 28 sides of acetate discs. With a maximum of about four
minutes per side, Harry must have been working frantically that night to capture it all
without missing anything.
All-round, this offering is probably only for purists and
fanatics like me (us?), it does bring us a couple of inches closer to what it must have
been like to hear that incredible 1938 band in the flesh.
Universal label
Sadly, Howard Scott at Columbia Records who was the producer of the first LP issue of
the concert has recently died. Recording engineer Seth Winner was fortunate to
obtain the original acetates from Howard’s estate. These were used for both the
Columbia issue of 1950 and the Schaap CD issue 1999.
Seth told me that the
The Holy Grail!
This is photo of the first side
of the legendary Goodman
Acetates. The very ones
that Benny’s sister-in-law
Rachel Speiden found in
Benny’s old apartment.
Courtesy: Seth Winner.
acetates were close to being thrown into a dumpster! He has kindly sent me
sound samples from the acetates and at long last, a picture of one of the
record labels. The picture confirms that the acetates were indeed cut on
Universal blanks.
It is generally accepted that Harry Smith recorded the concert under the
direction of Albert Marx. However, why these acetates have Universal labels is
still unexplained. Bill Savory suggested that Harry Smith had probably asked
Raymond Scott, who owned Universal, to record another set in parallel, as
Albert may have asked for 2 sets. That would account for why the set which
Goodman’s sister-in-law found in her closet in the summer of 1950, were
Back in 2009, I sent a copy of my book to Howard Scott. George confirmed
that Howard had received it but I understand that he was too ill to respond, I
would have loved to have heard from Howard. George Avakian and I were
working on a reissue of the concert and we were trying to contact Howard but
alas, he never responded. I am still trying to get our re-issue off the ground, I’ll
update my website with any news of progress.
In the meantime, I wish every body a happy 78th anniversary of this remarkable
day back in 1938. I’ll keep digging for those illusive nuggets and I hope to be
able to report back in future with more ‘Discoveries’.
Very best wishes.
My photo montage of the ‘Quartette’ at Carnegie.
Teddy Wilson is hiding behind the vibraphone.
Cheers George!
© Copyright 2016 Prancing fish publishing Ltd.

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