5/29/09

CITY ISLAND: MORE POLISH...



A few more shots from our Polish adventure before moving on to less exotic pursuits. But first, a plug. Do you like swing music? Dig Benny Goodman? Never heard of him? Well, the "King Of Swing" is having his centennial celebrated by New York's great jazz station, WKCR. Literally weeks of all Benny Goodman programming are winding down as we speak, though there's still plenty of great 24 hour BG to catch through June 1. If you love swing, or haven't the slightest idea of what I'm talking about, do yourself a favor and click here to listen and groove. Happy birthday, Benny. Even though you've been dead for thirty or so years. By the way, Benny was supposed to be something of a horror to work for. So loathsome was his reputation that musicians used to tell the following joke. "I have good news and bad news. The good news is Benny Goodman died. The bad news is he died in his sleep." Ouch.



Here are our "Miss City Island" girls.



Myself and the great Jan Kazmarek, our composer.



And finally an event that I fully expect will never happen to me again: having been asked for my autograph, I dutifully cooperate. What on earth could somebody want with my illegible signature? And why is it being filmed for Polish posterity?



Here's a little taste of Benny Goodman, from the film "Hollywood Hotel" shot in 1937. You get three songs in two and half minutes here--"House Hop", "Heart Full Of Music" and a taste of the BG quartet's famous arrangement of "Avalon". Visible are trumpeter Harry James (he's the one with the solo), vibraphonist Lionel Hampton (note that Goodman's band was integrated at an unusually early stage of American's deplorable history of race relations) and nutty show drummer Gene Krupa, who really does look an awful lot like Sal Mineo who later portrayed him in 1959's lousy "The Gene Krupa Story". Benny was portrayed by Steve Allen (!) in Anthony Mann's merely silly 1955 "Benny Goodman Story"...but we'll get into that another time.



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