He was famous around the world and across generations as the “King of Swing.” But there was a whole lot more to Benny Goodman than just a royal nickname. Goodman proved that jazz belonged in America’s most prestigious music venue with his historic 1938 Carnegie Hall concert. He was among the first bandleaders to hire racially-integrated groups. He helped introduce the electric guitar to popular audiences. And Goodman expanded the repertoire for classical clarinet when he commissioned works by Bartok, Copland, Milhaud and Hindemith.
But you already know all this, right? That’s because you were listening during Benny Goodman Week (Jan. 16-19) when we featured special programming designed to inform and inspire with Goodman’s music, historical remembrances, interviews and vignettes sprinkled throughout CapRadio’s News and Music formats.
“Most of us know the name and a lot of us know the music,” explains Paul Conley, managing editor for music and arts. “But I, for one, knew very little about the man and his legacy. With Benny Goodman Week we sought to showcase some of the major contributions BG made to music and to society.”
Our celebration culminated on Friday, January 19 with an extraordinary performance by clarinet virtuoso Ken Peplowski and the Sacramento Jazz Orchestra at the Harris Center in Folsom.
In between tunes Ken shared anecdotes about his time in the Goodman band, which added to the evening’s intimacy. Then, just before the band sent everyone home swinging with "Sing, Sing, Sing," Ken played an unaccompanied, unamplified version of Duke Ellington's impressionist ballad "Single Petal of a Rose." You could hear a pin drop.
Earlier that day, Ken was joined by pianist Ehud Asherie, vibraphonist Chuck Redd, bassist Ben Kopf, drummer Rick Lotter and guest trumpeter Aaron Smith (a recent Sac State grad) for a special student matinee concert.
Before the evening concert there was a special reception featuring brief remarks from Benny Goodman's two daughters, Rachel Edelson and Benji Lasceau, along with insights from author Jon Hancock (who traveled all the way from England for the concert), Ken Peplowski and CapRadio’s President and General Manager Rick Eytcheson. It was an extraordinary night at the Harris Center, capping off a special week at CapRadio.