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CJO at Ravinia Review – Benny Goodman Tribute Doesn’t Miss a Beat!

By Patricia Simms

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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:







Two knockout vocalists


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?


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


Published on Jun 17, 2013

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