Monday, July 20, 2009


Pete Long and his Band at the Civic


Pete Long brought his GoodMen to the Civic Stage, recreating the immortal moment when Benny Goodman dragged jazz out of the dance halls and the bordellos and onto the prestigious platform of the Carnegie Hall.

A more-or-less note for note reconstruction, starting with Don't Be That Way, and ending with the charming encore If Dreams Came True, bringing the sadly under-used vocalist [Joan Viskant] to the microphone one last time.

Some of the musicians Long had assembled could well have witnessed that classic concert, if only as babes in arms. Swing survivors included the amazing Alan Grahame on vibraphone, and the legendary Tommy Whittle on tenor sax, who actually worked with Goodman for a while. The sax quartet made some lovely joint contributions, too.
Other star instrumentalists included Tony Fisher and Alan Berlyn on trumpet, Richard Pite on the two drum kits, and Bunny Thompson at the piano. Long himself made a fine job of impersonating Benny's clarinet style.

It was wonderful to hear the sound without any amplification – other nostalgic big band tributes please take note !

But on that original evening in 1938, there was an informative printed programme, and only one brief announcement from the stage. They had no front man rabbiting on like David Brent's jazz-anorak brother, no ladies in the audience chatting away as if they were still in the day room at the care home. But that would obviously be taking authenticity too far ...

no video footage from Carnegie Hall, this the next best thing ...

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