Swingin' the Benny Goodman Songbook

On March 28, 2009,Terry Blaine and friends will Swingin' the Benny Goodman Songbook at Wilson Performing Arts Center (300 Commerce Drive, Red Oak, IA). Take an exploration of one of the richest periods in jazz history and combine that with three of the most skillful and exciting interpreters of the Jazz Age, and, well, you ve got a match made in Swing Heaven.

This toe-tappin show stars the talented trio of Terry Blaine, Allan Vache, and Mark Shane. As vocalist, Blaine pays tribute to the many stellar ladies who sang with the Goodman band, illuminating the work of great Goodman singers like Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, Helen Forrest, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Vache, an acclaimed clarinetist who needs no introduction among swing fans, handles the role of Benny Goodman with aplomb. His latest album as a bandleader, Ballads, Burners and Blues (Arbors), was picked as one of last year's best recordings on O's Place, a prominent jazz website.
His crisp clarinet has enabled him to secure feature solo spots in jazz festivals worldwide. Pianist Mark Shane, the Teddy Wilson figure in this trio, actually sat in with Goodman and was invited to play at the 50th anniversary Benny Goodman Memorial Concert at Carnegie Hall.

Shane's vibrant solo piano CD Riffles (Amber Lake) was selected as one of Jazz Journal International's records of the year in 2003. The trio came together organically. Each year on Memorial Day Weekend, Blaine, Vache and Shane played the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee. It was during these celebratory collaborations that the Benny Goodman material and featured vocalist ideas emerged. Naturally, both Shane and VachИ understand how best to underscore Blaine s spot-on vocals and lauded knack for fresh interpretation. Together, the trio s performances strike the perfect balance of playfulness and musicality. On songs like the coy Would You Like to Take a Walk and the sassy Miss Brown to You, Goodman s sense of humor and musical ebullience are in full evidence. And while the trio s arrangements remain faithful to Goodman s, there s plenty of room to pepper the proceedings with a little of their own spice.

So far, the reviews have been spectacular. Blaine is a revelation, says Jack Bower of All About Jazz, a smoky-voiced blues singer in the tradition of Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Alberta Hunter and other standard-bearers who enriches every lyric Many also appreciate the abilities of Blaine s accompanists. Do not overlook Mark Shane as a sensational soloist on all sides of jazz and a nifty arranger, says Bernard Lightman from the Swing & Jazz Preservation Society, adding another dimension to the performance. Allan VachИ s fingers flying up and down the clarinet is in deep contrast to his placid countenance.

The man is a phenomenon, and I sometimes wonder if he doesn t outdo Benny Goodman. And finally, audiences have been dazzled by the outstanding rapport these three performers have together. Says Bruce Crowther of London Jazz Journal International, Important to the proceedings is the fact that this is very much an ensemble presentation; the three taking equal weight and credit. Were comparisons to be made, the strengths of Blaine s voice are such that she is by no means shaded by her predecessors.

You can refer to Terry s website for further praise from the critics. One thing s for certain: they haven t stopped gushing since Terry Blaine, Mark Shane, and Allan Vache have turned up with this incredibly swingin tribute to the Benny Goodman songbook.

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