Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK and Benny Goodman...

In honor of MLK Day, we at " what we give." would like to pay tribute to a bandleader who hired musicians based on their ability rather than their color.

In 1935, Benny Goodman hired Teddy Wilson, a jazz pianist, to join him and Gene Krupa (drummer extraordinaire) as the Benny Goodman Trio. This made Wilson the first black musician to perform in public in a previously all-white orchestra. Soon after, Goodman invited Lionel Hampton (vibraphonist--cool, huh?) to join his Trio (thereby making it a Quartet, because if there was one thing a good bandleader could do, it was count!).

Hampton is quoted as saying this about Goodman:
"As far as I'm concerned, what he did in those days—and they were hard days, in 1937—made it possible for Negroes to have their chance in baseball and other fields."

Here is the Quartet in 1937. You'll swear that Wilson's hands are computer enhanced versions of the real thing, sped up to look that fast! Man, those cats could play!

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