“The Benny Goodman Sextet” is one of many excellent,
digitally remastered releases from the Columbia Jazz
Masterpieces series. At a running time of about 45
minutes, this CD consists of 12 tracks recorded
between 1950 and 1952.
After disbanding his orchestra in 1949, Goodman
used the sextet configuration of clarinet, vibraphone,
piano, guitar, string bass, and drums as his ensemble
of choice. The tracks featured here range from two
and one-half minutes to about five and one-half
minutes in length, reflecting the Swing ethos
associated with Goodman (1909-1986). Most of the
songs date from the 1920’s and the 1930’s.
The sole constant member of these sessions apart
from Goodman was vibraphonist Terry Gibbs, whose
playing worked well in tandem with Goodman’s. Their
collaboration was reflected in the arrangements,
although it’s unclear who deserves credit for them.
The easy, virtuosic exchange between these
musicians is a classic example of “art that conceals art.”
Depending upon the date of the recording, the other
players included pianist Teddy Wilson,
bassist Sid Weiss, guitarist Mundell Lowe, and
drummer Don Lamond, among others.
In essence, these are “mini” Big Band performances,
which are fun to hear, if not particularly compelling.
The sound reproduction is excellent, which is typical
of this series.