"I Got Rhythm" by The Benny Goodman Sextet (1938)

Here Goodman plays a hot version of George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm." The fast-paced tempo does not deter or fumble the accomplished band, moving easily through singing trumpet solos, syncopated chimes and a striking vibraphone solo that wins cheering applause from the audience. This Gershwin song has long been a favorite vehicle for jazz musicians. While it cannot be ignored that Goodman's success was at least partially a function of his race, the man himself was an innovator in the area of racial integration in music. The incomparable African American percussionist and future jazz superstar Lionel Hampton performs the vibraphone solo in this cut. This performance is from John Hammond's 1938 concert series "From Spirituals To Swing." This live recording of Goodman's small group gives the modern listener a sense of what it must have been like to see a live swing band in a concert setting. Count Basie was also a featured performer at this historical concert and his "Swinging the Blues" provides an even more invigorating example of the excitement of the performance element that often gets overlooked when reconstructing the musical past. The small group format here is typical of the impromptu "jam sessions" that came about from the 52'nd St. club scene in New York between 1933 and 1935, where musicians would sit in with each other late at night and perform for their own amusement. Mancuso writes that the 52nd St. scene was very influential on the future of jazz, and the home of swing from 1935 to 1939. Players such as Art Tatum, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespe and Charlie Parker were all products of the "Swing Street" club scene.