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January 16, 2013


New York City (JFK+50) 75 years ago today, January 16, 1938, jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman* & his 15 piece orchestra played at Carnegie Hall to a packed audience.


Benny Goodman
“Stage Door Canteen”


Top ticket prices were $2.75 & 2,760 tickets were sold.

This performance broke new ground because Carnegie Hall was considered the home of classical music.

Although the concert was recorded on both acetate & aluminium masters, the recordings were ‘filed away’ & presumably lost until the acetate recordings were rediscovered by Mr. Goodman’s sister-in-law in 1950.

The Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall recording was transferred to vinyl & sold more than a million copies.

Then in 1998, the back-up aluminium masters were found & released on compact disc by Sony the following year.

Benny Goodman said of the Carnegie Hall performance…

“That night…was a great experience…it was the thrill of my life to walk out on that stage with people just hemming the band in & hear the greeting the guys got.”


Senators O’Mahoney & Pepper
with Eunice Healy & Benny Goodman
United States Capitol
March 1939
Harris & Ewing Photo
Library of Congress Image

In the summer of 1962, the Benny Goodman Orchestra, which then included 22 pieces, conducted a 6 week State Department sponsored concert tour of the Soviet Union.

Upon their return, Benny Goodman reported to President Kennedy at the White House.  JFK said that the tour “was a great thing & I’m glad they did it.”

The President added…

“Benny Goodman is our ‘International Ambassador with clarinet.'”

Later, Goodman reported to the press that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev expressed a distaste for jazz…that he didn’t like it no matter if it was American or Russian.

One of JFK’s favorite songs was “Blue Skies” which was performed at Carnegie Hall along with “One O’Clock Jump”“Stompin’ at the Savoy” & “Sing, Sing, Sing”.


Benny Goodman & President Kennedy
The White House
July 24, 1962
Photo by Robert Knudsen
JFK Library Imag

*Benjamin David “Benny” Goodman (1909-1986) was born in Chicago to Jewish immigrants from Poland.  He made his professional debut in 1921 & his 1st recording in 1926.

In the 1930s, the Goodman Orchestra played on NBC’s “Let’s Dance” radio program & ushered in the beginning of the “Swing Era” as the jitterbug became popular.

Benny Goodman died at the age of 77.



“Superb Remastering of Milestone Jazz Concert,” by A. Pollock, January 24, 2007, www.amazon.com.

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