Benny Goodman Influences

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“The King of Swing: Benny Goodman and his Lasting Influences” Known as the “King of Swing”, Benny Goodman used his love of jazz and classical music to propel a career that spanned nearly six decades and drove jazz varieties to unprecedented levels of popularity. His influences on music included the introduction of the Swing Era, the propulsion of Bebop, and the commission of some of the greatest classical clarinet compositions of all time. Yet Goodman was more than a musician, and his desire to achieve perfection led him to break racial barriers in the music scene at a time when the nation was deeply divided by color. Born to a large, poverty stricken family in 1909, Benny Goodman first discovered the clarinet at age 10 (“Benny Goodman”, 2011). Two years later, while playing onstage at a small regional show, he caught the ear of bandleader Ben Pollack and was given a spot in Pollack’s band. Goodman made his first recordings with the band in Chicago in 1926, but began his band leader career in 1928 when he produced his first recordings as the lead of Pollack’s ensemble (Vitale, 2009). When major musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Jimmy Dorsey joined the emigration of artists away from Chicago to New York, Goodman followed (Stockdale, 1995). In New York, Goodman’s career soared. He put together his first band in 1934 and was given a spot at Billy Rose’s new theater restaurant The Music Hall (Stockdale, 1995). Later that year, he auditioned for NBC’s Lets Dance, a popular three-hour radio program that aired weekly and featured popular dance music styles (“Benny Goodman”, 2011). Goodman was given a spot on the show. Needing a new sound, he began purchasing arrangements from composer Fletcher Henderson, an African-American songwriter who had a popular Atlanta band in the early 1930’s. These hot, edgy arrangements combined with Goodman desire for precision in
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