Building Rhythm Together for Christ's Love

February 29, 2020

Thinking About Jazz   1-3pm

(free event: light lunch served,

door prizes, great discussion)

Benny Goodman:

King of Swing

Presented by

Benjamin David Goodman (5/30/1909-6/13/1986) was the ninth of twelve children born to poor Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire who met in Baltimore and moved to Chicago.  His father exposed him to free band concerts in the park, music lessons at their synagogue and the boys club band at Hull House.  Clarinet was his preferred instrument and he was influenced by New Orleans musicians.  At 14, he joined the musicians’ union and played in a band beside Bix Beiderbecke.  He moved to New York and became a session musician for radio, Broadway musicals and studios.  By age 18 he was recording beside Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Joe Venuti.  He signed with Columbia in 1934 and had a string of top 10 hits.  NBC hired him for its radio show, Let’s Dance; Fletcher Henderson wrote arrangements for him after his big band shut down during the Depression.  The show ran six months before being canceled.  On August 21, 1935 during a three-week engagement at the Palomar Ballroom in L.A. to initial mixed response, his band opened a second set with arrangements by Henderson and Spud Murphy to wild response, applause and dancing.  Some mark this date as the start of the swing era although Ellington and other black bands had played such music years before.  In 1935 in Chicago, his fame was cemented by nationwide radio broadcasts on NBC stations.  Jazz historians mark his January 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall as an event when jazz became accepted by mainstream audiences.  Although he expressed appreciation for bebop he never went toward it himself, remaining within swing.  Goodman was very close with Columbia producer John Hammond, marrying his sister Alice.  As a mature player he was known as very demanding and difficult, to some arrogant and eccentric.  But he was an advocate for racial reconciliation, hiring Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Christian among others.  He was popular enough to avoid the need to tour through the South, avoiding arrest for violating Jim Crow laws.  In 1962 in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis his orchestra toured the Soviet Union as part of a cultural exchange that brought the Bolshoi Ballet to the U.S.  Despite health problems he continued to play until he died of a heart attack in 1986 at the age of 77.

Benny Russell brings this fascinating presentation.

Other 2020 TAJ Events

February 29th
Benny Goodman:  King of Swing

April 25th
Sonny Rollins:  Saxophone Collossus

 June 27th
Hazel Scott:  From Cafe Society to HUAC

August 29th
W.C. Handy:  Father of the Blues

October 31st
Butch Warren:  Balance on Bass

December 12th

Nat Adderley:  Always Workin'

Thinking About Jazz is a public service brought to you by Southwest Renaissance Development Corporation (SRDC)--a cultural ministry arm of Westminster DC. 

This free educational experience happens every other month from 1-3pm  on the 4th Saturday (except December).  Each one focuses on a different giant or genre of jazz and features vintage video footage and select audio recordings delivered by experts in the subject matter.

The material along with Q & A allows participants to go deeper into the history, stories and power of the art form and those who have created it.

Light refreshments are served and door prizes are given.

  • Rev. Brian Hamilton, President
  • Lloyd Jordan, Chair
  • Dick Smith, Jazz Night Program Director

Marilyn Abraham, James Besley, Yolanda R. Coleman, Vyllorya Evans, Gwen Fleming, Wilma Goldstein, Sue K. Gresham, Blanche Hamilton, Alicia Hetzner, Donald Roe, Tangela Roe, Brenda Wilder, Von Deleah Williams
The Thinking About Jazz Committee
holds a planning meeting the last Saturday of January, March, May, July, Sept, Nov, 10am to noon at Westminster.  You are invited to join this committee!  Check the calendar for the next meeting.  You will enjoy your welcome to the committee and the opportunity to be part of planning another great Thinking About Jazz event.