GOOD MEN AND TRUE (July 6, 1952)






Written in between sets at the 2019 Redwood Coast Music Festival.

For some jazz fans, however one defines that slippery term, it remains fashionable to look down on Benjamin David Goodman, hot clarinetist. He was popular and prolific, prosperous and famous; he didn’t suffer (except for severe back pain); he lived a long time, was pale in complexion and Hebraic at birth.  Some thought his press-agentry (“the King of Swing”) was both inaccurate and insulting to other monarchs.

And the overwhelming evidence of his music has had, for some, a flattening effect: those who don’t listen closely might find that one version of AVALON runs into the next, high-speed crowd-pleasing set pieces.  (However, I notice that few raise the same objection with Charlie Parker’s returning to his controlled repertoire.)

But he was not only an extraordinary musician; he was a hot improviser who had splendid taste in his colleagues.  This post is for Kati Powell, daughter of the delightful and always-surprising pianist / composer / arranger Mel Powell, pictured above, whose work brightens every recording he ever made.

Here is a new lovely discovery, brought to us by the generous “Davey Tough” — whose YouTube channel is one marvel after another.  Listen, savor, and be transformed.  These three men are not going through the motions, and their hot virtuosity has yet to be equaled, both in solo and in ensemble:

Play that again.  Three minutes more out of your busy life will be rewarded by beauty.  And give thanks to the unknown recordist, who made marvels permanent rather than evanescent.

May your happiness increase!

5 responses to “GOOD MEN AND TRUE (July 6, 1952)

  1. I love Mel Powell. Underrated. And what a treat to hear it from the radio with such clarity. This is certainly the equal of (or better than) the Savory stuff. Hope Davey’s son is keeping the transfers safe LOL.

    Hey are you staying on the left coast for a little longer? The Kenton Legacy Band is playing in Roseville in two weeks – just down and over from you near Sacramento.

    Certain you have many things to do, but I have taken over Mike Vax’s websites for the time being and am planning the drive from Eugene to Roseville on the 23rd or so.

    He’s also planning a trip through the Midwest with the band in late Oct. early Nov. He does allow prople with an interest (and a pen) to ride the bus LOL.

    David Leonnig 541-912-4159 Sent from my iPhone


  2. “Davey Tough” is a pseudonym; the drummer left no children. Alas, I head back to New York (and New Jersey) on Monday. Best to you, David.

  3. Take a listen to the recording Bob Wilber made with Mel Powell..Kati actually stayed in our NYC apt one summer….charming!

  4. Sordoni III, Andrew

    In 1987 we produced and Hank O’Neal facilitated a Celebration Of Music And Art featuring
    Mel Powell. There are artifacts and recordings that we would be pleased to share.

    Andrew J. Sordoni, III
    45 Owen Street
    Forty Fort, PA 18704
    (570) 283-6202

  5. By any measure Benny was one of the greatest musicians of the 20th Century.

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