Tribute to Benny Goodman August 24, 2008
By Glen Creason
Some things will always be cool and the young will accept and love parts of popular culture each and every turn of the generations. This certainly includes part of the 30’s and 40’s including the horn section harmonies of orchestras who stirred big crowds of youngsters for decades. Big Band music heard live is one of those evergreen traditions that will put a spring in the step of baby boomers who may have never heard Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey swing the Avalon ballroom back in grandpa’s day. These sweet sounds from the Swinging years have a life of their own and when played by the masters can be as good as music gets. This was certainly evident at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on a Sunday matinee where the Terry Myers Orchestra sent up a sterling tribute to the Big Band royal, Maestro Benny Goodman in front of a packed house of lovers of the genre, many of whom were just little shavers when Goodman recorded the legendary concert at Carnegie Hall in 1938 that marked him for greatness. Other whippersnappers, like myself just love the sound of Mr. Goodman’s clarinet and the beauties from the American songbook that he once embraced.
The superb Terry Myers Orchestra takes the responsibility of playing these wonderful songs very seriously but the leader’s banter makes it all seem effortless and fun. There was plenty to enjoy on this afternoon as the show featured almost two dozen hits from the heyday of Big Band and there was not a sour note heard in the two hours of fine sounds. The orchestra is filled with seasoned pros who know their way around the vigorous charts set before them and in songs like “Let’s Dance,” “One O’Clock Jump” “Flying Home” “Avalon” and the incredibly potent “Sing, Sing, Sing” they darn near took the roof off the big hall. There was plenty of romance too in songs like “the Very Thought of You,” “My Funny Valentine,” and “the Man I Love” sung perfectly by vocalist Connie Brink. Ms. Brink added some spice to the mix in songs like I’m Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” “You Made Me Love You” and “And the Angels Sing.” Not only does she have the voice for the classics but her mannerisms and attitude were classy yet sassy. Yet, as it is in any fine band this is a team effort and Terry Myers holds the group together with his Goodmanesque solos but never hogs the spotlight. There were too many fine solos to single out but the tenor battle on “Avalon”and the Gene Krupa sounding drumming on “Sing, Sing, Sing” were really out of this world. More than just a tribute to Benny Goodman, this concert was a tribute to the entire genre and the dedication of Terry Myers to keep it alive and well. While the audience was mostly veterans of such sounds there was a mix of younger fans who left happily humming some great old songs.