The Chicago Jazz Orchestra’s homage to Benny Goodman and his remarkably fine band was perfect in every way—even in ways one wouldn’t, couldn't possibly expect.
So, let’s get your motor running so you’re better able to take in the experience. Here’s a link to Sing, Sing, Sing, the 1938 performance of one of Goodman’s signature pieces (and the “bring the house down” number that ended the first half––(yes! they weren’t done yet!)––of the concert:
Got your toes tappin’ and fingers snappin’? Did you get up to dance? Then you have an idea what the evening was like––captivating.
But I need to paint a fuller, more complete picture for you:
Jeff Lindberg, Artistic Director and Conductor of the CJO, orchestrated (sorry, the pun was too tempting!) a 1938 envelope for us. Not only was the music right there but, in front of the stage, The Windy City Jazz Dancers amazed and delighted us with every step, flip, kick and twirl of their lindy hop, or whatever it’s called. Their youthful exuberance was delightful to watch! For me, they became visual representation of the music, almost like dancing musical notes. Believe me when I say I will not try any of these steps at home, but I did kick up my heels a bit…
But that’s not all!
Three virtuoso clarinetists:
- Winner of the Multi-Reedist of the Year Award in 2012, Israeli Anat Cohen, made her debut at Ravinia with this concert and brings a wild klezmer accent to her thrilling music.
- Larry Combs, a now-retired (2008) principal clarinetist of the CSO and Chicago Chamber Musicians began fulfilling his lifelong his lifelong interest in jazz in the 1999 Jazz Festival and still is going strong. Tonight marks Larry Coombs 19th season as a featured soloist at Ravinia.
- Chicago clarinetist Eric Schneider has been playing the clarinet since his tenth birthday. Shortly after college graduation with a degree in advertising, he began playing with best of them, starting with a four–year world tour with Earl “Fatha” Hines.
Two knockout vocalists
- Cyrille Aimée grew up with Gypsy music, studied in Paris and the Dominican Republic, traveled the world, sang at Lincoln Center and won the Thelonius Monk Competition and recorded he major-label debut album It’s a Good Day, due out later this year. This is her Ravinia debut.
- Two-time Grammy Award winner Sylvia McNair was promising violinist who applied her skills to singing and recording over 70 albums ranging from arias to cabaret. The impressive breadth of her experience includes an honorary doctorate from Westminster Choir College (1997). She made her Ravinia debut in 2002 and returns for her ninth season.
And one gracious, glamorous, gorgeous host
Pamela Tyus of WVON gave us context. She kept us aware of the historic connection between then and now—75 years have past since Benny Goodman’s band made its indelible, game-changing impression on Ravinia, that stalwart temple of classical music and lily-white America. Benny saw black and white keys on the piano, not people. He only saw musicians.
Historically and musically, this was an outstanding evening of sensational music.
Want to hear more?
- See the CJO at the Jazz Showcase in June. Sets will be at 8 and 10 pm.
- o Tuesday, June 18 with vocalist Frieda Lee
- o Monday, June 24 with vocalist Bobbi Wilsyn
The CJO will continue its annual summer residency at Andy's Jazz Club (11 E. Hubbard St., Chicago) every Monday in July and August. Sets will be at 5:15 and 7:00 pm. For more information visit
The Ravinia multi-faceted glorious season continues into September! Check out www.ravinia.org for all those facets.
Performance: Ravinia/Patrick Gipson
Dancers: Ravinia/Pedro De Jesus
CJO Website: CJO Header