Not long ago, on my other blog, I declared my intention to see Todd Rundgren when he goes out on tour later this year.
It embarrasses me to admit that my tastes in live music are, chronologically speaking, less hip or current than those of my grandparents.
This week’s calendar entry finds my grandparents going out to hear a legendary performer — a clarinet player whose musical style seems as ancient and distant to me as saddle shoes, ration cards and mock apple pie.
(A clarinet player, for Chrissake. Is there any instrument so redolent of soft-focus, geriatric Music Of Your Life as the clarinet?)
But fairness compels me to admit that Benny Goodman‘s commercial peak was 20 to 25 years behind him when my grandparents saw him perform on February 7, 1963.
If I see Todd Rundgren this summer, it will be (gack) a solid 40 years past the days when he was a rising young hitmaker.
For that matter, I already have a ticket to see Graham Parker and the Rumour in April — a group that, until last year, hadn’t recorded together in 32 years.
Game, set and match, grandparents.
Just to add to Benny Goodman’s hip credibility, he was the first bandleader to successfully and regularly employ an electric guitarist, Charlie Christian.
He was also among the first to integrate his band.
In 1938, Goodman headlined the first jazz concert at Carnegie Hall — a breakthrough for the music into mainstream society. Oh, and he was also capable of playing classical pieces for clarinet and orchestra, too.
In other words, he wasn’t the syrupy big-band smoothie I tend to think of him as. He was an innovator, a giant figure in his style. (Rather more so than the performers I will probably see this year.)
Goodman was also a Stamford resident, which might explain why he happened to be playing at my dad’s alma mater, Stamford High School.
I’m not familiar enough with Goodman’s career and oeuvre to guess what he performed that night. My sense is that he either did the classical stuff or the swing stuff; I don’t know which side he was leaning toward in early 1963.
(Whatever it was, I imagine it was well-performed. Goodman’s Wiki profile indicates he didn’t have much tolerance for musical sloppiness. Neither did the Blumenau family, before I came along. So I’m sure my grandparents were satisfied with the quality of the performance.)
Here’s a sample of the sort of thing that might have been played. Christian, who died young, wouldn’t have been at the Stamford High gig. But the standard tune “Rose Room” might well have been on the menu:
Sounds — cough — pretty — choke — hip to me.