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Paquito D’rivera & Bob Wilber Join The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis For “The Music Of Benny Goodman”

SOURCE: Published:
December 10 Jazz Talk: Benny Goodman--Long Live the King
December 12 & 14 The Music of Benny Goodman

For the second installment of its series of LINCOLN CENTER JAZZ ORCHESTRA with WYNTON MARSALIS concerts, Jazz at Lincoln Center will present “THE MUSIC OF BENNY GOODMAN.” Taking place on Thursday and Saturday, December 12 & 14 at Alice Tully Hall, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (LCJO) will perform an array of songs by or associated with Goodman, joined by special guest clarinetist BOB WILBER and saxophonist and clarinetist PAQUITO D’RIVERA. Dubbed the “King of Swing,” Goodman was the first celebrated bandleader of the Swing Era. From the 1930s onward he helped to popularize jazz by leading one of the most admired big bands of his time, performing in films, recording extensively, contributing to the war effort, and touring internationally until his passing in 1986.

In addition to the LCJO concerts featuring Goodman’s music, saxophonist and educator Loren Schoenberg will host an insightful jazz talk entitled “Benny Goodman—Long Live the King,” on Tuesday, December 10 at 7pm in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse. Schoenberg will be joined by alumni of Goodman’s bands, including Wilber. Tickets to the Jazz Talk ($12) and the LCJO concerts ($60, 55) are available at the Alice Tully Hall box office, by calling CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500, or via www.jazzatlincolncenter.org. Cadillac is proud to sponsor this Jazz at Lincoln Center event.

Benny Goodman was born May 9, 1909 in Chicago. He began serious study of the clarinet when he was 10. In 1926, he promptly departed Chicago for New York, where he was in wide demand as a sideman. Encouraged by legendary record producer John Hammond, who arranged a number of jazz record dates for him starting in 1933 (one featuring Billie Holiday in her record debut), Goodman began to think seriously about forming a band of his own in 1934. His first model was Glen Gray, whose Casa Loma band had carved a jazz-oriented niche for itself among young college audiences. As the first Goodman band reached its peak in 1937 and 1938, Goodman used its commercial success to subsidize a series of small group-sides with Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa, and later with Lionel Hampton. In 1939 he expanded the quartet to a sextet with the discovery of Charlie Christian, who was the first great electric guitar master.

In the early 1940s, Goodman continued to reform and innovate, and after the war he experimented with bebop. The new harmonies seemed to interest him more than the rhythmic shapes, and realizing he had to take both together or nothing at all, he finally left bebop to its own masters and returned to swing, the music of which the world considered him the master. In 1950 Columbia Records issued recordings of his 1938 Carnegie Hall concert and the set became a runaway best-seller. A collection of brilliant broadcast performances from the late 1930s followed in 1952; then a movie biography, The Benny Goodman Story in 1956; and a tour of the Soviet Union six years later. After 1963 Goodman recorded less and less, but performed in the occasional concert. It was not until more than fifty years after Goodman began his professional music career that his legend and clarinet technique began to fade. Goodman died in his sleep on June 13, 1986 after rehearsing for a Mozart performance at Lincoln Center.

Grammy Award winner Paquito D’Rivera was a child prodigy who began playing the clarinet and the saxophone and performing with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra at a very early age. He is a founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna and co-director of Irakere whose explosive mixture of jazz, rock, classical and traditional Cuban music had never been heard before. His numerous recordings have been applauded by critics and music lovers alike. With the Paquito D’Rivera Quintet, he tours throughout the world. His appearances in classical venues include solo performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, The Royal Philharmonic, the Bronx Arts Ensemble, the Florida Philharmonic, St. Lukes Orchestra, the Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra and the Simón Bolivar Symphonic Orchestra among others, and with the Cuban National Symphony premiered several works by the foremost contemporary Cuban composer Leo Brower. In 1991 Mr. D’Rivera received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Latin music, along with Dizzy Gillespie and Gato Barbieri. In 1997 he became recipient of his second Grammy Award with his record, the highly acclaimed, “Portraits of Cuba" and in the year 2000 he won a third Grammy for his “Tropicana Nights" alongside a nomination in the classical category for his “Music of Two Worlds," with music from such composers as Schubert, Brahms, Guastavino, D’Rivera and Villa Lobos, and his latest Grammy was received for Paquito D’Rivera Quintet, “Live at the Blue Note." He is becoming increasingly well-known for his compositions in addition to his extraordinary performing career. His music shows his versatility and wide-ranging influences, from Afro-Cuban ritual melodies to the music of the dance halls, through rhythms encountered in his wide-ranging travels to his origins as a “classical" performer.

Bob Wilber was born on March 15, 1928, New York City. After studying clarinet as a child, Wilber began leading his own band and as a teenager became a student of Sidney Bechet. He recorded with Bechet, growing adept on the soprano saxophone, and was clearly at home in a traditional jazz setting. Nevertheless, Wilber's avid desire to expand his knowledge and expertise led him to further studies under Lennie Tristano. During the mid-1950s, he led a band that blended traditional with modern concepts in jazz. During the late 1950s and on through the 1960s, Wilber played and recorded with distinguished leaders, such as Bobby Hackett, Benny Goodman, Bechet, Jack Teagarden and Eddie Condon. In the early 1970s, he teamed up with Kenny Davern to form Soprano Summit, a band that brought him to the attention of new audiences around the world. This group stayed in existence until 1979, and soon afterwards he formed the Bechet Legacy band, recording extensively, often on his own record label, Bodeswell. Active in jazz education, Wilber has also been musical director of the Smithsonian Jazz Repertory Ensemble, the house band for some of the Duke Ellington conventions, and has written for films, most notably the recreation of Ellington's music for “The Cotton Club” (1984). He continued leading his Bechet Legacy band throughout the 1980s, making records and accompanying his wife, singer Joanne 'Pug' Horton. He also recreated a Benny Goodman band for anniversary performances of the 1938 Carnegie Hall concert and published his autobiography, Music Was Not Enough (in collaboration with Derek Webster). In the early 1990s Wilber was reunited with Davern for concert appearances and was still keenly exploring new ways of presenting older musical styles to a contemporary audience. Wilber performed with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis in December 2000.

Loren Schoenberg was born in New Jersey and began piano lessons at age four. As a teenager, he studied with Sanford Gold and Hank Jones, and moved to New York City in 1976 to study music theory at the Manhattan School of Music. While attending school, he studied saxophone with Joe Allard and Lee Konitz. He is an active conductor, lecturer, writer, and performer and currently serves on the faculty of The New School, the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard Institute for Jazz Studies. He has collaborated with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (LCJO) many times, most recently as guest musical director during the LCJO’s Woody Herman concerts in the 2001-02 Season. An artistic consultant to Jazz at Lincoln Center, he has been involved with Essentially Ellington since the program’s inception, and also serves on the faculty of the Band Director Academy in Aspen. Schoenberg was recently appointed the Executive Director of The Jazz Museum in Harlem. His first book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Jazz was published this summer.

For more information, please visit www.jazzatlincolncenter.org.

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