Benny Goodman's Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert

Tackley, Catherine (2012). Benny Goodman's Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert. Studies in Recorded Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press.



The concert given by Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall on 16 January 1938 is widely accepted as a seminal event in the history of jazz. No doubt this reputation has been perpetuated by the release of the concert on LP in 1950 as The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert. This book combines rigorous documentary and archival research with close analysis of the recording, stripping back the accumulated layers of interpretation and meaning to assess the performances in their original context, and then, through analysis of mediating factors, explores what this material has come to represent in its recorded form.

In Part One – Context, the concert is examined as an event in itself, with particular consideration of its precedents and promotion, concluding with an assessment of the overall content of the concert program. This included numbers performed by Goodman’s orchestra, trio and quartet as well as a ‘Twenty Years of Jazz’ section and a Jam Session involving guests from the bands of Count Basie and Duke Ellington. At the heart of the book, Part Two - Performance, the recording of the concert is analyzed in detail with reference to other contemporary recorded performances (both studio recordings and broadcasts) by Goodman and others where appropriate. This is informed by examination of original parts and scores and illustrated with numerous music examples, including transcriptions of solos. Finally, Part Three – Reception, focuses on the aftermath of the concert in 1938, the release of the album in 1950 and subsequent reissues from 1999. Reception is studied comparatively, with reference to the reviews of the concert and the album. The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert is positioned alongside other recreations of the concert on record, in live performance and on film.

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