Benny Goodman's Style of Music Term Paper

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This section was made up mainly of alto and tenor saxophones, but sometimes also included baritones as well.

1935 saw the creation of the Benny Goodman Trio, yet another development in the evolution of Goodman's style. The trio was made up of legendary jazz musicians; Teddy Wilson, Gene Krupa who he had played with in his radio days, with Goodman leading and composing. In this era, Goodman followed a much more mature style, as seen in After You're Gone, (Groove Music, 2008). In these recordings, he explored a complete range of the clarinet and was prone to play in "blue thirds," (Groove Music, 2008). In 1936, the trio became a quartet with the addition of Lionel Hampton on the vibraphone.

One night in 1938, Goodman got the chance of a lifetime, and has been thereafter accredited with bringing swing music into national recognition. He and his band performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City, bringing swing to the world. A look at this night from the first hand perspective of Ralph De Toledano in his "The Night Swing was Born," reveals the breathtaking ability of Goodman, both as a clarinetist and a composer. This was the performance which brought swing world renowned fame, "an earthquake of violent intensity rocked a small corner of Manhattan last night as swing took Carnegie Hall in its stride," reported New York Sun journalist Irving Kolodin (De Tolenado, 1999). This first hand description of Goodman's disciplined and perfected style is an amazing testament of his own influence on the genre of swing. Since this night, Goodman has been attributed as being the king of swing, (De Tolenado, 1999). Goodman was also mastering his skills and styles of composition. Unlike all other white band leaders and composers at the time, Goodman was the first to incorporate black musicians into his groups and compositions. His compositions embodied the big band style. However, possibly as a result of his earlier roots, his compositions incorporated more saxophones than other big band composers. Along with other swing big names, Goodman also incorporated more high-hats in pieces, (McGridley, 2005).

His is a smoother rhythm than seen in earlier jazz composers. Goodman is also known for using more extensive written arraignments in his compositions, which most melodies played in part by every section. There was also much more of an emphasis o solo improvisations of various artists, which typically followed him throughout his entire composing career.

There was yet another change of the guard in 1940, when Goodman created a new version of his famous trio. This new trio incorporated a heavy influence from the style of Lester Young combined with Goodman's reminiscent classical roots. This small combo highlighted the musical talent of Goodman's band. "Seven Come Eleven," composed by Goodman and Charlie Christianson in 1939, is a perfect example of his smaller combo style. It included Goodman on clarinet, Christianson on jazz guitar, Lionel Hampton on vibraphone, Fletcher Henderson on piano, Arte Bernstein on bass, and Nick Fatool on drums, (Gridley, 2005). In this performance, he gave the other artists a great showcase to prove their own artistry. It incorporates a simple them with classical swing rhythms, (McGridley, 2005). His solo actually comes at the end of the three solos. The piece also later influenced many bop musicians.

Despite an unsure attitude in previous years, Goodman finally dived into bop starting in 1947. He began recording with Capitol records under a heavy bop influence. His style mimicked that of Fats Navarro and Wardell Gray. His bop period is relatively unknown and far less lucrative when compared to his career in big band and swing. His previous pieces also were a heavy influence on several bop artists throughout the years.

Benny Goodman is one of the most influential and revolutionary jazz composers. Not only did he evolve his style as a testament to his own abilities, he also helped showcase many other artists who would later go on to their own revolutionary and lucrative careers. This evolution in style shows his mastery of his art.


De Toledano, Ralph. "The Night Swing was Born." Insight on the News. Vol. 13. Feb.,

Gridley, Mark. Jazz Styles: History and Analysis. 9th ed. Prentice Hall. 2005.

Groove Music. "Benny…

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