Friday, 13 November 2015

When you make a great record, you give pleasure forever - newlyweds dance to Benny Goodman's "Sing. Sing, Sing"

Karolina and Wojtek practiced for a year for their first dance as a married couple in 2010, and their efforts have since been viewed over 12.5 million times - they're not the world's greatest dancers, but I think that's why it's so touching. Here's the Benny Goodman Orchestra performing the number in Hollywood Hotel (1937) . The slo-mo section at the end - not part of the original Busby Berkley film, in case you wondered - is fascinating, but you'll have to turn the volume up):

The reason I find the slowed down section so interesting is that it reveals how precise drummer Gene Krupa's playing was, and how deeply bluesy the music is. Krupa was not only a fantastic, viscerally exciting drummer - he was also a great innovator: he was apparently the first drummer to insist that recording engineers record the bass drum (normally skipped because early recording technology couldn't handle it), and he made the tom-toms a key element in jazz drumming. Although he himself freely conceded that a later drummers were more technically proficient, none of them matched his gift for showmanship (even Buddy Rich) or made quite as thrilling a racket. Here he is on TV many years later in a "battle" with Buddy Rich - the old boy's still got it:

Back to "Sing, Sing, Sing" (which, by the way, was written by Louis Prima, whose voice everyone now knows from"I Want to Be Like You" in The Jungle Book. Here's a charming video which makes it look as if Fred and Ginger are dancing to Benny and Gene's classic:

The ultimate version of a song that has given so much pleasure around the world over the past 78 years (79, if you include Louis Prima's original 1936 recording with the New Orleans Gang) is probably this 12-minute version performed by the Benny Goodman Orchestra at their famous Carnegie Hall concert in 1938, shortly before Krupa left to form his own big band:

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