“Have one to sell? Sell now #D366 VINTAGE 1950S 8X10″ JAZZ ORCHESTRA NEGATIVE PHOTO Benny Goodman Big Band”

When I looked up “Benny Goodman” and “1938” in preparation for this blogpost, Google quite naturally led me to the Carnegie Hall concert of January 16.  But there was wonderful music made later in the year, by a band elevated by Dave Tough, drums, and Bud Freeman, tenor saxophone.  Here’s a sample:

The link between that performance and my odd title might not be clear, so here’s the answer key: the title is the convoluted language of eBay, that odd treasure house.  And thanks to David J. Weiner, scholar and friend (pal of my childhood days, to be precise) I have the treasure below to share with you.  It’s a remarkable photograph — the negative of one — of the 1938 band, dressed up in performance garb, but not on the stand, and not holding instruments.  And even better, the normally somber-looking Dave Tough has just heard something funny or said something of the same kind (I think that Lionel made Dave laugh): a visage rarely if ever captured on film.

The bad news is that I did not win this photograph for my very own.  The good news is that someone who wanted it even more fervently did . . . to the tune of $105 and some change.  I hope (s)he enjoys it tremendously and hangs it in a place of honor.  For us, the magic of “Save image” means that we can hitch a ride for free, and moral questions aside, that is a great thing.

Now, I will confess ignorance and say that I cannot identify everyone in the picture, and I solicit the assistance of the readers of JAZZ LIVES who know more than I do — when they are irksome, I silently call them The Corrections Officials, but today I invite informed responses.

Here’s what and whom I know.

Front row left, unknown; Ziggy Elman, trumpet; Bud Freeman, tenor saxophone; unknown woman who doesn’t look like Martha Tilton or, for that matter, Gladys Hampton, at all; Lionel Hampton, vibraphone; Dave Tough, drums; unknown (is that Chris Griffin, trumpet?)

Back row left, Vernon Brown, trombone; unknown; unknown; Arthur Rollini, tenor saxophone; unknown; Harry James, trumpet.

Where’s Benny?  Where’s Jess Stacy?  I assume some of the heroes I couldn’t identify are a second trombone, perhaps Noni Bernardi and Dave Matthews, guitarist Benny Heller.  Does anyone recognize the room?  The fireplace suggests a hotel rather than a recording studio, but that is a guess, nothing more.

And while you’re scrambling to prove your Benny-knowledge is just the best, here’s a soundtrack to inspire you, the deliciously loose rendition of SUGAR by Benny, Lionel, Teddy Wilson, and Dave:

This post is in honor of David Weiner, Kevin Dorn, and Richard Salvucci.  Of course!

May your happiness increase! 

13 responses to ““Have one to sell? Sell now #D366 VINTAGE 1950S 8X10″ JAZZ ORCHESTRA NEGATIVE PHOTO Benny Goodman Big Band”

  1. Because I’m a devilish kind of fellow, I submit they’re smiling because Benny ISN’T there.

    Another example of drummers hanging together!

  2. Stephen Taksler

    This photo is marvelous. Please keep me on the mailing list..this is my first mailing. Stevetaksler@gmail.com🙂 I have about 1400 of the 1700 photos in my collection. They can be found by googling The Stephen Taksler Room. Click on the red link in the text.

    Great day


  3. Which nobody can deny!

  4. Pete Hyland


    The loving cup on the mantel seems to be engraved so I’m guessing maybe a Country Club ?? Perhaps if we could zoom in on the cup a la Call Northside 777…..? Where’s Jimmy Stewart when you really need him?

    Pete Hyland (guitar/vocals)

    Shriners Dance Band

    Denver El Jebel Shriners



  5. Stephen Taksler

    This was received 5 minutes ago. I have no idea who I got it. Cool photo

  6. Great picture Michael. This could be when Benny was in Europe on vacation in the summer of 1938.

    L-R: Back: Vernon Brown, Gordon “Chris” Griffin, Benny Heller, Arthur Rollini, Noni Bernardi, Harry James. Front: Sterling “Red” Ballard, Ziggy Elman, Bud Freeman. The girl could be one of Benny’s sisters. His sister Ethel handled the band’s payroll. Lionel Hampton, Dave Tough, Dave Matthews.

    Keep swinging.

    Mike Zirpolo

  7. Dave Matthews was a wonderful alto player. It’s a shame he didn’t solo or record more. I think he was very whimsical in his playing, especially here on “Wrappin’ it Up.” This was a record my dad especially liked because of Dave’s solo. I also think this might be the same bunch of musicians as in your photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWiSwcXy5AY

  8. Nicely, Matthews shows up on TAPPIN’ THE COMMODORE TILL / WHAT’S THE USE? / MEMORIES OF YOU / LIFE SPEARS A JITTERBUG in 1938. So someone outside the BG circle valued him too.

  9. I think the woman in the photo (who has clearly been asked to show her legs) is Maxine Sullivan.

    Hard to know what the occasion is. It’s clearly a formal photo, so clearly not the Goodman band as such. Do you think Benny would have allowed that, without him in it? It’s Goodman musicians off on a gig of their own. But who’s the leader?

    And I think they laughing at the photographer, who has obviously said something stupid to make them smile.

  10. Fred Ollison

    Question who the young lady is. Educated guess with the help of D.Russell Connor’s discography. Page 88. Before Tough was fired. James, Elman and Griffin in Trumpet Section. Harry Goodman sitting in front of James. The only AA singer mentioned during this time period was Maxine Sullivan, who was a guest on several shows in late June of 1938. She appeared along with M.T. It doesn’t look like her, in my opinion, but the band personnel fits. Any Comments?

  11. It doesn’t look like Maxine to me.

  12. Or me. I think of Margie Gibson or the young woman who the party is for.

  13. Still looks like Maxine to me. Google her and look at the main photo provided there, especially the nose. True, this woman looks older than 27, which is the age Maxine was in 1938. But who else could it be? She is clearly with the band (I find the other suggestions implausible). So that’ll do, for me, until a better one comes along.

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