Benny Goodman

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Decades: 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
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Benjamin David Goodman, 30 May 1909, Chicago, Illinois, USA, d. 20 June 1986, New York City, New York, USA. Born into a large, impoverished family of immigrants, Goodman experienced hard times while growing up. Encouraged by his father to learn a musical instrument, Goodman and two of his brothers took lessons; as the youngest and smallest he learned to play the clarinet. These early studies took place at the Kehelah Jacob Synagogue and later at Hull House, a settlement house founded by reformer Jane Addams. From the start, Goodman displayed an exceptional talent and he received personal tuition from James Sylvester and then the renowned classicist Franz Schoepp (who also taught Buster Bailey around the same time). Before he was in his teens, Goodman had begun performing in public and was soon playing in bands with such emerging jazz artists as Jimmy McPartland, Frank Teschemacher and Dave Tough.

Goodman’s precocious talent allowed him...

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