Benny Goodman’s Carnegie Hall Concert 80th Anniversary

January 16 marked the 80th anniversary of Benny Goodman’s historic Carnegie Hall concert. The event was commemorated at two New Jersey locations ten days and about the same number of miles apart. The first was on the 14th at the Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan, where James Langton’s New York All-Star Big Band performed as part of the Sunday afternoon jazz series curated by Dan Levinson. This concert was not a note-for-note re-creation of the original, although all the full-band numbers from the original were included. It was better than that, because it allowed the band to feature other great tunes that Goodman recorded and/or played before and after Carnegie Hall. The show began with Dan, the band’s nominal leader, alone on stage, verbally describing the factors that brought the concert about. Then after a few bars of a scratchy recording of the opening number “Don’t Be That Way,” he said: “If you had been at Carnegie Hall that night, this is not what you heard. THIS is what you heard...” Whereupon the curtain rose and the band launched into the tune, to great applause from the nearly full house. While the first two songs did adhere to the original program, from then on the playlist was altered to allow several of the band members to show their stuff. For exam
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Bill Hoffman is a travel writer, an avid jazz fan and a supporter of musicians keeping traditional jazz alive in performance. He is the concert booker for the Tri-State Jazz Society in greater Philadelphia. Bill lives in Lancaster, PA. He is the author of Going Dutch: A Visitors Guide to the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Unique and Unusual Places in the Mid-Atlantic Region, and The New York Bicycle Touring Guide. Bill lives in Lancaster, PA.

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