Benny Goodman played the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall back in 1979, when he was 70 years old. But earlier this month, the spirit of the King of Swing filled the room again, as the Brooks Tegler Orchestra rolled into the Music Hall for a concert performance of “Benny Goodman: A Carnegie Hall Tribute” to benefit the Capital Region Coalition to End Homelessness.
Yes, it was a tribute concert, and drummer-bandleader Brooks Tegler and his 14-piece big band recreated Goodman’s legendary 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall – the concert that has been called “the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history.”
No easy undertaking, certainly, but Tegler’s band was up to the task.
Local jazz drummer, writer and radio host Tim Coakley was on hand to announce the songs and provided background information about the 1938 concert and the songs, and when Tegler took his place behind the drums (in the Gene Krupa slot), the band came out swinging with “Don’t Be That Way,” kicking off a rich and varied two and a half hour performance that rolled back the calendar to the big band era.
Clarinetist Joe Midiri ably conjured up Goodman’s sweet playing, and the band was in the pocket all night long, never overpowering the solists – even though the entire band was performing at the Music Hall without benefit of amplification.
The big band ensemble playing was hard-driving when it needed to be, especially on “Swingtime in the Rockies” (with a soaring solo from trumpeter Randy Reinhardt) and, of course, the classic show-closer “Sing Sing Sing” (featuring a dynamic drum-and-clarinet duel between Tegler and Midiri).
When the band broke down into smaller ensembles, the fireworks continued. The trio of Midiri, Tegler and pianist Rossano Sportiello turned in a beautiful ballad treatment of “Body and Soul,” and they were just as on the money when joined by Midiri’s twin brother Paul on vibraphone for “Avalon” and “Dizzy Spells,” both in full jitterbug overdrive. (Paul Midiri also doubled on trombone in the big band.)
There were a number of stand-out musicians throughout the course of the evening, including saxophonist Anita Thomas and trumpeter Bria Skonberg, who also doubled as the “girl singer” on the two vocal selections of the night, “Loch Lomond” and “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen.”
I’m not a big fan tribute bands, but I’ve got to admit that this one was an undeniably swingin’ history lesson.
B.A. Nilsson’s review at Metroland
THE BROOKS TEGLER ORCHESTRA’S “BENNY GOODMAN: A CARNEGIE HALL TRIBUTE” SET LIST
Don’t Be That Way
Sometimes I’m Happy
One O’Clock Jump
I’m Coming Virginia
When My Baby Smiles at Me
Life Goes to a Party
Body and Soul
The Man I Love
I Got Rhythm
Swingtime in the Rockies
Bei Mie Bist Du Schoen
Stompin’ at the Savoy
Sing Sing Sing
If Dreams Come True
Big John’s Special