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  • Writer's pictureLaura McBride

Sing, Sing, Sing

Last Friday night, we went to a concert at Cadogan Hall in London.

What a wonderful place. Perfect acoustics. So much so that, except for one number, the musicians needed no amplification to duplicate a great deal of two concerts held at Carnegie Hall in NYC in 1939. The concerts being partially recreated were by the orchestras of Benny Goodman, the late King of Swing, and Glenn Miller, who sadly died on his way to a performance in France for the troops during WWII.

The musicians also regrouped to play a few numbers from Goodman's small groups, the ones in which he got to toodle on his "licorice stick" without worrying about actually leading an orchestra. I admit, I like Goodman better than Miller, and I like the small group work better than the big group work. Except for Sing, Sing, Sing. That might just be my all-time favourite piece of pop music.

The leader of the orchestra last Friday, Pete Long, told some great stories as well as playing great music on the clarinet as well as leading the band. It seems singer Peggy Lee once had to visit Goodman in NYC to rehearse. His flat was very cold; it was January in NYC, when the winds whipping through the canyons of tall buildings make it seem extra chilly. She mentioned it, and Goodman disappeared for about 20 minutes and came back wearing a cardigan...and did nothing whatever for Miss Lee. It was Long's opinion that Goodman might have had Asperger's Syndrome, as he was brilliant but eccentric in the extreme and apparently demonstrated virtualy no people skills. Miller, on the other hand, would have made a fine director for a profitable company in the service sector, with both management and people skills second to none.

Who knew? as we used to say. I'd been reading lately about what a curmudgeon Goodman was. And to that, I always said, "Who cares?" He made some damn fine music that has lasted the better part of a century in the popular lexicon of dance tunes.

One even more valuable thing I learned, not being a musician myself, is the reason I prefer Goodman and my parents preferred Miller. Goodman's music was solipsistic, suiting my philosophical bent to a T, whereas Miller's was just plain dance-eable. Mind you, the whole family likes swing--Goodman, Miller, the Dorseys. My father particularly liked Count Basie. Doesn't matter who's got the swing, it don't mean a thing to us McBride's if you ain't got it.

BTW, the clip above is from an earlier Cadogan hall re-creation in 2013.

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