New York Swing: Till Tom Special

"I was hurrying homeward that holiday afternoon," wrote S.J. Perelman in The New Yorker of May 15, 1937, referring to Washington's Birthday, "pretty much in the groove, humming an aria from 'Till Tom Special' and wishing I could play the clarinet like a man named Goodman." Sid Perelman wasn't the only tomcat purring that tune. When the Benny Goodman Sextet featuring Charlie Christian recorded Sid's in-the-groove aria, John Bunch and Bucky Pizzarelli were impressionable teenagers; coincidentally, both grew up to become sidemen with B.G. and, not coincidentally, 56 years after its maiden voyage re-launched "Till Tom's Special" at the 1996 Floating Jazz Festival, where this track was captured live. (Or was it? A stupefying lack of in-person ambience persists until track's end, when what seems like spliced-in applause suddenly shatters the aura of studio reenactment. Of course, it's possible the entire audience was preoccupied on deck playing shuffleboard and arrived only in the nick of time to acknowledge the completed performance.) In any case, New York Swing's revival is so buoyantly affectionate that we suspect Christian's ghost, grinning with pleasure, and Benny's specter, dour as always, may have been stowaways for this infectiously swinging cruise.

February 24, 2008 · 0 comments


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