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December 07, 2008

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Han Schulte

Dear Marc,

This afternoon I did some thinking and research about the question: how come Goodman got such a good response at the Palomar Ballroom in LA on August 21, 1935? I posted my ideas tonight in www.jazzpress.nl: DID FLETCHER HENDERSON'S ARRANGEMENTS IGNATE GOODMAN'S 1935 SUCCESS?
There are couple of reasons to think Henderson's work did the trick.
But, first of all, it was summertime and it was on the West Coast. Lots of people visit summercamps in august. So in and around LA there were a lot of people on holiday.
So people could pay a visit to the Palomar on this Wednesdayevening.
Second, the economy was getting better, esp. in the LA area.
Third, Goodman had made a number of new records in spring promoted by Victor with new arrangements by Fletcher Henderson.
Because of the 26 NBC "Let's Dance" broadcasts Goodman could pay his arrangers Edgar Sampson and Gordon Jenkins with this "radio money" $ 37,50 for each new arrangement; they made 8 arrangements every week! I think Henderson got paid a little bit more for his arrangements of classic tunes and newer ones.
Plus: NBC made special records for other radiostations with music from the "Let's Dance" bands.These 16 inch vinyl 33 R.P.M. records were all titled "Thesaurus Series".
All the bands were called "Rhythm Makers Orchestra" (there must be some reason for it; copryright?). Seven of these records were filled with Benny's new band. In total 51 new tracks, but not from the broadcasts, but from one marathon studio session on June, 6 1935. If we take two weeks for pressing, one week for mailing and one week for having radiostations all over the country programming these records, this new music was nationwide available - apart from the Victor records in the stores - for youngsters starting midway July. And that's also holiday time.
But the main point is: the public in the Palomar Ballroom was not overenthousiastic during the first part of the concert on August 21, 1935.From the moment on Goodman ordered his bandmembers to put the new Henderson arrangements on their music stands the public went crazy.
So in my opinion Henderson's arrangements ignated Goodman's success.
And for jazzhistorians: it's the economy, stupid.
Best,
Han Schulte
Netherlands

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  • Marc Myers writes frequently on music and the arts for the Wall Street Journal. He is author of "Why Jazz Happened" (University of California Press). In 2012, JazzWax was named the Jazz Journalists Association's "Blog of the Year."
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