These tremendously popular and influential trio and quartet sides of 1935-39 pioneered cool-toned chamber jazz.
These tremendously popular and influential trio and quartet sides of 1935-39 pioneered cool-toned chamber jazz. Clarinetist/bandleader Benny Goodman, pianist Teddy Wilson, vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, and drummer Gene Krupa (replaced later by Dave Tough) played a casually elegant brand of swing, with intimate, bell-like textures and an emphasis on melody. In particular, "After You've Gone" and "Body and Soul" are classic performances in the annals of jazz. (These recordings, along with many high-profile concerts, were also historic for the fact that Wilson was the first black musician to feature in a prominent white jazz group.) The sound quality is remarkable, a testament not only to the reissue production but also to the original record-makers. It's too bad that the Bluebird's Best series in which this release figures consistently gives short shrift to the initial producers and engineers, eschewing proper credits. More historically aware is the fine new reissue in the Bluebird First Edition line of the re-formed Goodman Quintet's Together Again! album from 1963; the disc shows clarinetist and company older, maybe wiser, but utterly in sync.—BB