Benny Goodman's appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1938, the first time a jazz orchestra performed at the hallowed site, may be the most famous concert in jazz history, but that didn't stop the infamously self-absorbed Goodman from forgetting for over a decade that he had been given a recording of the show. When it was brought to his attention again in 1950 and subsequently released, the Carnegie Hall recording became a huge bestseller. The present reissue of the historic recording adds more to our understanding and enjoyment of this major event: After ferreting around for years, jazz archivist Phil Schapp found additional music that had been edited from the original release.
The famous highpoints remain as electric as ever: Harry James's big-and-brassy trumpet solos; Gene Krupa's flamboyant drumming, the Goodman trio and quartet features with pianist Teddy Wilson and vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, band pianist Jess Stacy's spontaneous, fascinating improvisation on "Sing, Sing, Sing", spirited renditions of the band's 1930's hits.
Goodman was also wise in bringing in some favorite players from the Duke Ellington and Count Basie bands. There are stunning moments that spotlight his musical guests: Johnny Hodges's soprano saxophone melody reading and baritone saxophonist Harry Carney's solo on the lovely "Blue Reverie," Buck Clayton's jaunty trumpet improvisation, Count Basie's waste-free piano statement and Lester Young's thrilling, complex solo from the jam session number, "Honeysuckle Rose," and trumpeter Bobby Hackett's career-making homage to Bix Beiderbecke on "I'm Coming Virginia." Schapp may have given us a bit too much in returning the dead air of stage setups and other unnecessary between-numbers business, but the musical treats he unearthed -- an additional Clayton chorus and Carney and Green solos on "Honey Suckle Rose," as well as Goodman band versions of signature tunes "Sometimes I'm Happy" and "If Dreams Come True," give us a fuller picture of a historic event that maintains its immediacy to this day.