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Jazz for Curious Listeners
LAUGHING THROUGH A LIFE IN JAZZ: With Bassist Bill Crow
August 30, 2011

Mission to Moscow: With Benny Goodman in Russia, 1962

In a piece titled, “To Russia Without Love,” Bill Crow wrote that “Benny Goodman was probably the world's best-known jazz musician. The average person thought of him as ‘The King of Swing,’ master of both hot jazz and classical music, a statesmanlike bandleader who traveled the world as Musical Ambassador of Good Will for the United States. Among jazz fans he was also known as the first white bandleader to break the color bar when, in the 1930s, he hired Teddy Wilson, Charlie Christian and Lionel Hampton. His bands and his recordings were always first class, and countless musicians found their careers established, or placed on a firmer footing, because Benny hired them.

“Insiders in the business know other aspects of his personality. Whenever veterans of Goodman's bands find themselves working together, they tell stories about him, either to marvel once again at his paradoxical nature or to exorcise with laughter the traumatic experience of working for him. Musicians who were with him in 1936 swap similar stories with musicians who worked for him in 1986, the last year of his life.”

In the last of five sessions for this month, Crow will reveal details about the his harrowing time with Benny Goodman in Russia in 1962.

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