Benny Goodman

Berlin 1980

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This Benny Goodman live CD is a bit of a sleeper in his vast discography. Before leaving for Germany in the fall of 1980, he took only one musician with him, pianist Don Haas, who had joined the clarinetist earlier in the year. He then auditioned and recruited guitarist Harry Pepl, bassist Peter Witte and drummer Charly Antolini; in spite of the language barrier (none of them spoke English), Goodman was quickly convinced of their abilities and proceeded to play two shows with them on consecutive nights in Berlin. According to noted Goodman discographer Russell Connor, Goodman was so pleased with the results that he considered issuing an LP at the time, but was dissuaded by potential producers since the concerts had been broadcast on both television and radio in Europe and were widely taped by collectors. Among the highlights of the shows are old favorites like "Avalon," "Airmail Special," a rousing "Sing, Sing Sing!" (showcasing Antolini) and "Harry Pepl's Blues" (in which Pepl shows a definite Wes Montgomery influence, but in a swing setting). Goodman is at the top of his game throughout the CD; the release of this valuable concert material was long overdue.

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