Monday, November 8, 2010

Benny Goodman, and my thoughts on modern music

When I listen to this live recording of the Benny Goodman band in 1943, I am reminded of the sheer power of a good swing band. These musicians sound so different to the musicians I hear playing 'swing' these days, who are all-too-often trying in vain to reign in more modern tendencies during solos and ensemble passages alike.

Not that I'm saying everything must be pure or authentic - far from it! I just feel that if you're going to play swing music, you should respect the style you're working within. There's plenty of freedom to be found there.

My generation has had unprecedented access to different musical styles and sounds. This is wonderful of course, but the danger is that we mix too many things and end up with a diluted result. Instead of combining the vibrant colours of different musical styles, we can end up mixing them together to form a muddy grey hybrid. We lose that wonderful variety of sounds by offering the same 'mix of everything' as all the other groups.

What a thrill it must have been to stand in front of this band in 1943, where there were fewer influences to be heard, but such cohesive spirit and collective energy!

And what a thrill it must have been to receive that applause at the end.

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