Benny Goodman: Profile in Jazz

He was the “King of Swing,” one of the greatest clarinetists of all time, and an international celebrity by 1936 who is still a household name 84 years later. Benny Goodman achieved all of that not by overly commercializing his music, wearing funny outfits, jumping into the latest trends, or even developing an outgoing or particularly friendly personality. He became world famous simply by playing the music he loved and spending his life practicing his clarinet. He was born May 30, 1909 in Chicago, Illinois, to a relatively poor Jewish family. His parents were not musical but, when Goodman began playing clarinet at the age of 10, he found his lifelong passion and developed very fast. He took lessons from Franz Schoepp who also taught Jimmie Noone (an early influence on BG) and Buster Bailey. By the time he was 12, Goodman had won an amateur contest imitating Ted Lewis, the corny but colorful clarinetist who was becoming a big name in show business. When he was 14, Goodman joined the Musicians Union and began working locally in the Chicago area including with the bands of Murph Podalsky, Chuck Walker, Jules Herbevaux, Arnold Johnson, and Art Kassel. He met Bix Beiderbecke while playing on a steamboat and played gigs with Bud Freeman,
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Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.

Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.

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