I Once Saw Benny Goodman!

I absolutely love Goodman's music. At my high school, each year the senior class would take a trip to visit New York City. I was somewhat of a clarinet nerd, so I took along my clarinet. Every chance that I had, I would hide in the hotel room closet and practice y clarinet. There was a copy of The New Yorker magazine in the hotel room and I happened to notice that Benny Goodman was going to be performing at a place called Basin Street East. It looked to me as though his performance would begin at 2 a.m. the next morning. To say that I was excited would be the understatement of the century!

I knew better than to ask our chaperones whether or not I could go hear Goodman. There was absolutely no possibility that they would agree to allow a seventeen year-old Alabama boy out of the hotel to roam around New York City in the wee hours of the morning. I waited until after bed-check and around midnight I sneaked out of the hotel and began a trek across Manhattan toward Basin Street East.

I arrived slightly before 2 a.m. and paid the outrageous $5 cover charge. As they escorted me to a table, I saw that Goodman was already on stage and in fact, in the middle of a solo of Riding High! I thought that he had just started a bit early!

It wasn't too long before they finished the tune and, to my amazement, Red Narvo, who was playing with Goodman, lifted the bars from his xylophone and threw them on the floor! Everyone laughed - the rest of the combo drifted from the stage and Goodman, himself, acknowledged the audience and the left the stage.

I sat there for a bit before I realized that I had misread the ad in The New Yorker and that instead of beginning at 2 a.m., the gig ended at that time.

Oh well, it was a great adventure. Our chaperones never realized that I had left the hotel and walked across Manhattan in the middle of the night, but they did notice that I dozed off in the middle of a visit to some museum the next day.