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LPs From the Attic: Benny Goodman — Swing into Spring

March 15, 2010

Benny Goodman — Swing into Spring (Texaco promo, 1958)

Good afternoon, friends and neighbors. Jay here with a confession: I don’t know much about jazz, unfortunately. Sure, I took a couple music history classes, go to a lot of concerts, and sing a little, so I know a few things, but not nearly enough.

That being said, I know what I like. For instance, I know I like the hard bop of Les McCann and Eddie Harris (and I like cursewords). I listened to Bitches Brew, alone, *after* college–and after I was getting steady action–so I feel like I avoided the “doin’ it to be cool” thing. John McLaughlin’s guitar work, in or out of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, ranks among my favorite things.

But, my knowledge and taste don’t run very deep, I’m afraid. I hope to fix that as long as I’ve got the eyesight, coordination, and ambulatory skill required to scour the racks and get my learn on. Meh, either way, I’d probably still have That Intern go after stuff.

This is all just to say that I’m a big fan of Benny Goodman’s Swing into Spring. Given that it’s a compilation of his popular tunes, timed at its release to coincide with the debut of the television program of the same name (brought to you by the good people at Texaco), I suppose you angry jazzheads are going to flame my overall superficiality. Go ahead. When you calm down and catch your breath, I’ll put on some Keith Jarrett, toss you a Stella Artois, and give you a moment to rehearse your apology before we kiss and make up.


But, yeah, Swing into Spring’s got me moving at the keyboard, standing up as I usually do. Every tune (some, songs with actual, lively vocal turns provided by Helens Ward and Forrest) has that finger-snapping pop that makes you daydream about 75-degree days and flowers blooming and, then–that’s right–getting it on, pre-summer style. We’re talkin booty shorts and fur-lined Uggs (a.k.a “Ughs”) and wife-beaters at a grill-out in 47-degree weather. Boioioioing!

But I regress. We’re not talking about that. Not exactly.

Every tune makes you think of argyle sweaters and arcane hipness and…hey. Really, it makes you think of that guy from the Enzyte commercials who’s got a boner while golfing with his homies. I guess we’re told he’s got a happy lady-friend waiting in the clubhouse, but I’m just wondering if Mr. Turgid needs to ask himself some serious questions.  After all, that thing with the whole Santa suit at the Christmas party (or, Office Gathering, as Kathy wouldn’t fucking stop telling you to call it, Ga-ry) was kinda weird. How he avoided a lawsuit after the whole Kathy thing….The man’s got a golden tongue I tell you.

Dammit. I’ve done it again. How the mind wanders on warm, sunny days such as these.

Yeah, each tune seems like a custom-fit soundtrack for picnic lunches and summery blouses and cocktails and the whisperings of sweet lies and …what a little moonlight can do! I keep thinking of Woody Allen’s Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex opening scenes, where the rabbits are all about to get it on in a flurry of fluffy-tailed f…you get the idea.

Hey, listen to this album. It’s appropriate as all get-out. Spring’s almost here. The birds are singing. The bees are trying to have sex with them, as is my understanding.  This album is a great find, if kinda rare, and it’ll please most casual lovers of jazz if served with a three-olive martini and splash of sunshine.

And the promise of a little somethin’-somethin.’

Swing into Spring!

  1. March 16, 2010 4:47 pm

    Great column! There’s a whole world to discover in jazz. I’ve been back on this journey myself lately, gaining a new appreciation for the practice of the use of Tin Pan Alley standards as launching pads for improvisation. (see: John Coltrane’s take on “My Favorite Things” or Miles Davis’s of “My Funny Valentine”) Since Blue Note Records celebrated its 70th birthday last year, a whole lot of great stuff has come back to my attention and I’ve been buying a bunch of stuff.

  2. Caleb permalink
    March 16, 2010 6:11 pm

    Here, here Mark! Or maybe it’s hear, hear. Anyway, the Blue Note reissues have been wonderful–I’ve been working through the most recent Thelonius Monk collection. Jazz is certainly an acquired taste, but I believe that if you take the time to study and love it, your appreciation of other types of music will grow as well. Thanks for another great one, Jay!


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