The Benny Goodman Orchestra, fresh from its tremendous success on the West Coast, were booked for a one-month stay at the Congress Hotel in Chicago. Due to their popularity, this engagement lasted over six months. Sunbeam, a label largely dedicated to documenting as much of Benny Goodman's music as possible, has issued five LPs of material from this prestigious and now historic gig. The first volume is typical of the band's repertoire and style of the time. While most of the soloists are melodic and competent, only Benny Goodman and to a lesser extent pianist Jess Stacy have truly great moments. But the band's ensembles were usually flawless, the arrangements were tasteful and swinging, and Helen Ward's vocals were consistently enoyable. And best yet, the recording quality of these continuous broadcasts is surprisingly good.
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