After You've Gone: Benny Goodman & Beyond
The hit show from the London Jazz Festival, featuring the music of the four jazz giants from the Benny Goodman Quartet; Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson & Lionel Hampton.
In 1935, Goodman formed his quartet with Lionel Hampton on vibraphone, Teddy Wilson on piano and drummer Gene Krupa. This was the first jazz band to feature both black and white musicians working together on stage. Each of Goodman’s three sidemen went on to lead their own bands and this new show pays tribute to the great music created by these four giants of the swing era.
The dynamic, showman drummer Gene Krupa left the Goodman ranks in 1938 to form his own mighty band (featuring the thrilling Roy Eldridge on trumpet and the sultry Anita O’Day on vocals).
Benny’s vibraphone virtuoso Lionel Hampton also became a star in his own right producing numerous exciting recordings in the late 1930’s that featured some of the decade’s greatest names such as Harry James, Cootie Williams, Johnny Hodges and Benny Carter.
The elegant pianist Teddy Wilson and his orchestra accompanied the classic recordings of Billie Holiday and Lester Young, considered by many to be amongst the best performances in jazz history.
"When hokum is combined with fine musicianship, the whole experience becomes even more good humoured."
Alyn Shipton, London Jazz
Reviews & Press
After You've Gone: The Benny Goodman Quartet and Beyond - London Jazz Festival, review by Alyn Shipton
One aspect of several of the concerts I've managed to get to at this year's London Jazz Festival is that they've been good fun. Across the stylistic spectrum, introspective beard-stroking and head nodding has given way to broad grins and foot-tapping.
"But few events have had quite so much uninhibited joy as Richard Pite's Jazz Repertory Company paying tribute to the four members of the Benny Goodman Quartet."
As well as Pite's extrovert, Krupa-esque drumming, Pete Long (clarinet, tenor sax), Colin Good (piano) and Alan Grahame (vibes) stomped through a fine selection of the quartet repertoire, before turning their attention to music made independently by each of the original participants. Joan Viskant sang her way elegantly through some of the Billie Holiday / Teddy Wilson classics, and the band cleverly evoked the spirit of those 1930s sessions, as they also did with some lively blowing on the Hampton small group material.
Where the concert really moved up a gear from very good to excellent was in the Gene Krupa section. Rico Tomasso and Joan Viskant mugged their way through "Drop Me Off Uptown" with some fiery Eldridge-style trumpet from Tomasso. Then Richard Pite's flair for capturing Krupa's show-biz tricks came to the fore. He hammered deftly on the strings of Jerome Davies 's bass on "Big Noise from Winnetka" , turned in a solo that involved juggling his sticks, then throwing them up high in the air and catching them in time to come thundering in on the down beat, and rounded it all off by playing a solo on a matchbox with matchsticks that finally (almost) burst into flame. When hokum is combined with fine musicianship, the whole experience becomes even more good humoured.
By the end of the Krupa-focused numbers, the audience was in party mood, and the final Goodman sextet pieces with Martin Wheatley 's vintage electric guitar emulating the authentic sound of Charlie Christian , saw everybody off happily into the dusk. It is to the Festival's credit that it finds a place for traditional and mainstream jazz in its programme. and when it is as well played as this, and such straightforward fun into the bargain, it all adds to what has been one of the most enjoyable of recent London Jazz Festivals.
Clarinettist Pete Long has presented “Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall 1938” in theatres throughout the country and drummer Richard Pite is considered one of the world’s finest exponents of Gene Krupa’s drumming style (he conceived the Gene Krupa Centenary Celebration in 2009). Anthony Kerr brilliantly recreates the dazzling Lionel Hampton and pianist Colin Good’s speed and dexterity recalls the brilliance of Teddy Wilson.
Add to the four stars of the quartet Enrico Tomasso’s thrilling trumpet, Jerome Davies’s swinging bass and Chicago’s very own Joan Viskant (whose singing brings the spirit of Benny, Gene and Anita O’Day’s hometown to the mix) and you have an exciting and varied show featuring the finest in small band swing.
"In Pete Long, reeds player, raconteur, bandleader and all-round wit, we have a genuine home-grown treasure." Clive Davis, The Times