I would like to warmly welcome you to the next Monday’s social dancing in Lilla salen. The theme is ‘Sing Sing Sing’ and will reflect the music from one of the biggest names in the jazz and show industry, the leading clarinet of the Swing era, Mr. Benny Goodman.
According to Benny Goodman’s enormous legacy, it shouldn’t be hard to represent his artistry through my upcoming three hour long set, but this evening is going to be for dancers only. I’ve been collecting Benny’s records for nearly eight years and it is really hard to explain how much excitement there is to finally play his superb music.
Through the years, I got to know music from many great band leaders such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, Lucky Millinder, Artie Show, Fletcher Henderson and many others. They are all the greatest in their own way but I have to say that Benny always lifts up my dance spirit.
I vividly remember times we used to dance inside of circle jams to Goodman’s song ’Sing, Sing, Sing’. Those were the times when nobody questioned if that song is “too fast or too long or a killer mood” like some DJs might see it. When you heard the first beats of Krupa’s tom-toms we all knew what time it was: JAM-TIME! There was some crazy stuff you could witness: stealing partners, super showing off, air-steps, brutal swing-outs, smooth shuffling and even “helicopters” from breakdancing; people from all levels joined in and just did it.
‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ was written by Louis Prima but Benny’s version, without lyrics, was a big song to us. It really connected us and we all felt great support from each other. I’m still giving a big credit to my good friend in Ljubljana, DJ “crazy” Igor (Dobnikar), who is still preserving those kind of jams with this song. But not many do it anymore.
Times changed and ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ beckoned to sofa for music lovers only. I also agree with the observation that Jonathan Stout, guitarist and a band leader of Campus Five, told in Ryen Swift’s podcast: “Sing Sing Sing is the song we all loved from the minute we start swing dancing until we got to cool for school.” Click here to listen the whole interview.
Luckily, Benny Goodman still gives inspiration to many musicians to recreate and play his songs for dancers. One of them is my friend and clarinetist from Berlin, Andreas Hofschneider, who’s band setup is really impressive. I strongly recommend you to get his music for your library or even better, see them playing live. I asked Andreas how does Benny Goodman influence on him and here is what he wrote exclusively for Balboa Special:
“Benny Goodman? Oh yeah. He’s been my hero from the age of eighteen. Actually, I started playing the trumpet and was not happy with it. When I needed glasses for my driver’s licence, I felt chic – and switched to clarinet. That was it! The glasses were the impulse! Not the Rolling Stones or Frank Zappa, no, Benny Goodman was my role model. When I started to wearing suits and ties at school, my classmates thought I was crazy. I just loved Benny. I bought a fingering chart and all the records I could get and practised clarinet from morning to night in my grandfather’s attic.
My clarinet teacher? Benny and no one else. Till today. My inspiration? The dancer. Benny himself was a brilliant dancer and knew exactly what they wanted. I realised that myself, when I founded a quartet ten years ago: I played the wrong tempos! At that time I also met Sylvia, my wife today, who looked into my eyes and said: “You have to learn to dance, my little one!” I did – with her. Finally, we were aware, I could dance and finally understood how Benny was successful with his music: learn to dance!”
Click here to find out more about Andreas Hofschneider and his band.
So. If you learned how to dance then it’s time to shine up your shoes, put on your favourite dance outfit and show up at Balboa Special this Monday. Yes, I will play ‘Sing, Sing, Sing-Part 1’ from Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert, which is my favourite version.