Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman Story [Capitol]

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Consumer advisory: In 1955, Universal Pictures released The Benny Goodman Story, starring Steve Allen. Goodman himself played the music in the film (which consisted of re-recordings of his old hits), rounding up such former band members as Harry James, Martha Tilton, and Lionel Hampton, and a successful soundtrack LP was issued by Decca. But Goodman wasn't under contract to Decca; he was on Capitol, which rushed him into the studio in December to recut his hits again. Capitol then released this album early in 1956, with the same title as the film and the Decca soundtrack, its cover deceptively declaring that it contained "brilliant new high fidelity recordings made especially for this album of the selections featured in the motion picture of his life." Pretty sneaky. Forty years later, Capitol reissued the album on CD with the same cover, which indicates that ethics in the record business have not improved (in case you were wondering). That said, the reissue adds five bonus tracks, pushing the album to an hour's length. And though the album is not what it claims to be, it is nevertheless a hot session on which Goodman plays with his usual assurance, and the big band, which features Dick Hyman and Milt Hinton along with guest appearances by James, Tilton, and Ruby Braff, and a version of the quintet featuring Hampton, Mel Powell, George Duvivier, and Bobby Donaldson, are effective. (The Decca soundtrack is now on MCA; the original versions are on RCA.) (Originally released on LP by Capitol Records in 1956, The Benny Goodman Story was reissued on CD by Capitol Jazz on Nov. 7, 1995.) ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi