Jon Metzger | Times Fly

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Jazz: Swing/Big Band Jazz: Chamber Jazz Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Times Fly

by Jon Metzger

Fresh, new, hard-swinging treatments of Benny Goodman's small group material.
Genre: Jazz: Swing/Big Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Air Mail Special
4:13 album only
2. Lullaby of the Leaves
4:18 album only
3. Slipped Disc
3:08 album only
4. Everybody's Somebody's Fool
3:58 album only
5. Jersey Bounce
5:10 album only
6. After You've Gone
5:24 album only
7. Bernie's Tune
4:30 album only
8. Midnight Sun
4:39 album only
9. Seven Come Eleven
4:17 album only
10. I'm Confessin'
3:48 album only
11. Avalon
4:49 album only
12. Goodbye
6:01 album only
13. AC-DC Current
4:15 album only


Album Notes
Jon Metzger, vibes
Gregg Gelb, clarinet
Ed Paolantonio, piano
Don Gladstone, bass
John Hanks, drums

The Benny Goodman small group recordings are among the finest and most significant in jazz. The various groups, from trios to sextets, were a popular attraction at Goodman's big band concerts. These ensembles were the first to be extracted from a larger jazz orchestra.

The trio was conceived by a chance meeting of Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson at a party given by Red Norvo. After hearing Wilson perform "Body and Soul," Goodman invited the pianist to join him on the road, making the Goodman orchestra one of the first and certainly most prominent integrated band. With the addition of dynamic drummer Gene Krupa, the trio entered RCA studios in 1935 to record "After You've Gone" and "Body and Soul." Wilson provided a foundation for the ensemble's efforts with solid rhythmic support in his left hand while his right hand wove a harmonic counterpoint in conversation with Benny Goodman's clarinet. This interplay inaugurated the trio as the first exponent of chamber jazz.

In 1936, while in California, the trio happened upon Lionel Hampton playing at the Paradise Club. After-hours jamming persuaded the vibist to join the ensemble, expanding it to a quartet. Through extensive touring as a member of Goodman's smaller unit (and later as the big band's drummer), Hampton gained international recognition. It was Teddy Wilson who discovered the splendid combination of piano, vibes, and clarinet voiced in close position in the upper register.

After the quartet had been together for four years, bassist John Kirby was asked to sit in. Kirby's presence provided a solid and swinging harmonic foundation that enabled the soloist (including Wilson) greater melodic freedom. The bass became a permanent addition with Milt Hinton, George Duvivier, and Art Berstein subsequently filling its chair.

By the early forties, the group had grown to a sextet. Employing the fresh and imaginative guitar of Charlie Christian and tenor saxophonist George Auld, the ensemble produced thoughtful arrangements and introduced new repertoire. The expanded ensemble's ostentatious closing riffs, performed at swift tempos, became a recognizable trademark. Elaborate shout choruses that would displace the return statement of the theme appeared in "Seven Come Eleven," "Slipped Disc," "AC-DC Current," and "Air Mail Special."

Benny Goodman continued working with small ensembles for the remainder of his career, recording over 100 albums in that format. In 1963, the original quartet of Goodman, Hampton, Wilson, and Krupa reunited to participate in numerous concerts and recordings. The small group legacy afforded Goodman the opportunity to stretch out as a clarinetist and to indulge himself as a brilliant improvisor.

--Brad Linde

A recording project for the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra (The Benny Goodman Swing Collection, Metro Records) brought the musicians on this album together for the first time in 1998. For many years before that session we had all known and worked with each other in various contexts. Ed Paolantonio and I toured together as Jazz Ambassadors under the auspices of the United States Information Agency's Arts America Program. John Hanks and I go all the way back to our college days at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Plus, Gregg Gelb has maintained a busy schedule with John and Don Gladstone playing in his swing band. Still, something special clicks when this band gets together to play concerts full of music made popular by Benny Goodman's small groups. We share the same excitement, energy, and respect for what Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, and Gene Krupa pioneered so beautifully many years ago. As jazz musicians, we wouldn't play as we now do had it not been for their, and other hereos', many innovative contributions and influences. This recording mirrors these same feeling of ours about the past, and bridges them to the present and future.

--Jon Metzger



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