There have been many tributes to Benny Goodman over the years but here is one with a delightful difference. Singer Terry Blaine, clarinetist Allan Vaché and stride pianist Mark Shane work together frequently on many stages. Back in 1999, the three recorded within a ten-piece band on Blaine's fine album Too Hot For Words
. Terry Blaine attracts fine jazzmen in the same way that Annette Hanshaw did in the early 1930's. Past projects featured many of the finest traditional players around and included Ed Polcer, Ken Peplowski, Frank Vignola, Ed Metz, Danny D'Imperio and Harry Allen.
Benny Goodman worked with and employed some of the finest female vocalists including Helen Forrest, Helen Ward, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Mildred Bailey, Peggy Lee, Martha Tilton and Ethel Waters. Terry Blaine pays tribute to some of those women. As many Goodman fans would do, I read over the song list to see if my favorite song was included. Yes! "You Turned The Tables On Me" showed up on the second track. The Helen Ward classic was later recorded by both Frances Hunt and Martha Tilton, but many are not aware the Ella Fitzgerald sang it with the Goodman band during a Camel Caravan radio broadcast on November 10, 1936. There are standards like "After You've Gone," "Body And Soul" and "Memories Of You" that listeners would anticipate. The album succeeds because of ingredients the audience does not expect.
The first is "Would You Like To Take A Walk" and Goodman first recorded it in 1931 with the Ben Selvin orchestra featuring the forgotten Helen Rowland. A month later he worked with a small group backing singer Annette Hanshaw's memorable version for the Harmony label. Blaine pays a wonderful tribute to the Hanshaw disc.
Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Eddie Lang, Rube Bloom and trumpeter Mannie Klein backed Ethel Waters on her recording of "You Can't Stop Me From Loving You" in 1931. Blaine, Vaché and Shane swing the Ethel Waters gem ceaselessly. Mark Shane's piano is brilliant.
Billie Holiday never recorded with the Goodman band but in 1935, she waxed "I Wished On The Moon" with the Teddy Wilson sextet that included Goodman, Roy Eldridge, John Kirby, John Trueheart and drummer Cozy Cole.
The inclusion of "Junk Man" is probably the most surprising track of all. Goodman recorded Frank Loesser song in 1934 featuring Mildred Bailey. A few days later, he assembled a band under the pseudonym of Bill Dodge and waxed the tune for World Radio Transcriptions but using a male singer, Red McKenzie, under the pseudonym of Joe Carroll. "Junk Man" is a great tune, but strangely, Goodman never played it again other than on a broadcast in the same year.
Musically, Swingin' The Benny Goodman Songbook
is one of those "from the heart" albums. Everything just seems to go right for the trio. A quick glance at the song list following this review will reveal all seventeen tracks. Mark Shane is one of the finest stride players on the scene. He played within the Goodman band and was featured at Carnegie Hall for the 50th Anniversary Benny Goodman Memorial Concert. Shane recently appeared on Terry Blaine's CDs Lonesome Swallow
, Too Hot For Words
and Whose Honey Are You
. His solo album Riffles
bent the ears of stride fans and critics around the world.
Allan Vaché needs little introduction to swing fans. His efforts on this album are outstanding and he sometimes seems to out-play his idol. In addition to his past appearances with Terry Blaine, the clarinetist is heard on the Arbors Jazz label. His album Swing And Other Things
garnered great reviews. Downbeat called it one of the best jazz CDs of the 1990's.
Terry Blaine is one of the finest interpreters of the Jazz Age and the Swing Era. Her heartfelt readings of tunes like "I Wished On The Moon," "Low Down," "I Don't Know Why" and Goodman's closer "Goodbye" just have to be heard. The new album will delight swing fans. Five shining stars!