Benny Goodman

Live Swing Sessions 1943-1949

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The music on this two-CD set is wonderful, featuring a full disc of obscure and sometimes unissued Benny Goodman big band performances and a second CD that showcases him with small groups. All of the music was originally broadcast on the radio and dates from the period when bebop took over jazz. Among the key sidemen are drummer Louie Bellson, tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims, trombonist Lou McGarity, trumpeter Bernie Privin, and pianist Jess Stacy among many others. However there are two problems to this reissue. The music is not released in chronological order and skips all over the place randomly. To make matters worse, Chris Pirie's lengthy liner notes say virtually nothing about the music, instead ranting and raving about esoteric issues that are irrelevant to this release; they can safely be skipped. So if one wants to figure out who is soloing on what track, it takes a magnifying glass to look through the microscopic personnel listings and a bit of patience. However the music is consistently exciting and well worth picking up, particularly for the surprising touches of bop in places, including on Mary Lou Williams' "Lonely Moments."

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