Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Benny Goodman's 1962 visit to the Soviet Union marked the first time a jazz band from the United States had ever toured the country. For the occasion, the legendary "King of Swing" assembled a fantastic big band that played to an appreciative audience that was mostly unfamiliar with the genre. Goodman arranged to record a number of concerts during the tour, and RCA Victor released excerpts of his final week in Moscow on a two record set released in December of the same year. Goodman's performances on the recording are first rate, and the sound quality is superb. The repertoire includes a number of his favorite standards, but there are also some less familiar tracks including Tommy Newsom's "Titter Pipes," which features both Phil Woods and Zoot Sims. This set has been long-awaited by jazz fans everywhere, and Dutton's usual top-rate remastering makes it a must-have.
Benny Goodman arranged to record a number of concerts during his 1962 tour of the Soviet Union, and arranged for RCA Victor to release excerpts of his final week in Moscow within this two record set. In spite of the rather unreliable electric service, and a blown fuse in the middle of a septet version of "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" (which was still edited and released), the sound quality is generally very good, and the audiences are respectfully quiet while enjoying a rare visit by an American Jazz icon. The clarinetist is in great form throughout this recording. Although there are a number of standards present long associated with Goodman, there's also plenty of valuable new material. Tommy Newsom's "Titter Pipes," features both Phil Woods and Zoot Sims, and was a hit with the audience. Pianist John Bunch's swinging "Why You" and "Feathers" merit praise, as do the surprise inclusion of two of Tadd Dameron's compositions, "Fontainebleau" and "Swift as the Wind." Teddy Wilson takes over on piano for the quintet medley of time-tested favorites. Strangely overlooked during RCA's various series of CD reissues, this music has only been reissued by the European bootleg label Giants of Jazz, though it omits two tracks, makes some odd changes in the sequencing of the music, and incorrectly credits Wilson as the pianist on the octet selections. But the original album will be fairly difficult for most Benny Goodman fans to track down. ~ Ken Dryden