Following the musical migration out of Chicago and into New York, Goodman became a very successful and popular free-lancer, joining the likes of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey in New York studios. In 1934 Benny put together his first big band, featuring Bunny Berigan on trumpet, Jess Stacey on piano and Gene Krupa on drums. With the addition of some excellent, sophisticated arrangements by Fletcher Henderson, the “Swing Era” was born.
Benny Goodman spent the next fifty years recording and touring with various groups big and small, including some very successful trips to Russia and the Far East. He also played many concerts on a classical format that received mixed reviews.
Known by musicians for his stand-offish and “cheap” nature, many sidemen had a love/hate relationship with Goodman. Many musicians claimed that Benny was dishonest when it came time to pay off the band and many more recalled the Goodman “ray”, the dirtiest of looks received when a mistake was made. That aside, its clear that without Goodman the “Swing Era” would have been nowhere near as strong when it came, if it came at all.
After his death, the Yale University library received the bulk of Goodman’s personal collection including many private never-before-heard recordings and rare unpublished photos.