Above: Clarinetist Allan Vache, who played with Benny Goodman, brings down the house with bandleader Joe Gransden on trumpet.
Goodman was a clarinetist who toured the country, played Carnegie Hall in 1938 and died in 1986 at age 77. During an era of segregation, he led one of the first well-known integrated jazz groups.
Goodman, the ninth of 12 children, grew up impoverished while his father shoveled lard in Chicago. When Goodman was 14 and able to make money playing music, he bought his father a newsstand.
The 18 musicians at the Breman had the audience clapping and tapping their toes as Goodman’s most beloved music was woven into biographical anecdotes and historical bits.
Breman Executive Director Aaron Berger kicked off the concert by recognizing it as a part of the Atlanta Jazz Festival and the “31 Days of Jazz.”
Atlanta favorite Joe Gransden, on trumpet and vocals, welcomed star clarinetist Allan Vache, who played with Goodman in 1980.
The special numbers included dueling musicians on “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” and the more sentimental “Our Love Is Here to Stay” and the “Jersey Bounce.”
A birthday tribute was made to Eleanor Breman (who was not in attendance) as the donor of the 7-foot Steinway piano Georgia State University music professor Geoff Haydon used to play “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
“All my life I have loved Bennie Goodman’s music,” Deanne Whitlock said.
Concert host Marilyn Eckstein said: “I loved the concert because the band was so warm. They really seemed to be having a good time themselves. The imported clarinetist, Allan Vache, was terrific. The program was informative and entertaining.”
Fan Howard Rothman said: “I’m excited about tonight. Unfortunately, the younger generation does not appreciate big band music like we do.”
Another concert host, Jeannette Zukor, said, “I thought tonight’s jazz music was particularly special.”
Gransden, a wonderful bandleader, bowed to his musicians and said, “How ’bout them bones?” — a reference to trombones.
It was all we could do to not dance in the aisles.