Phil Schaap Jazz

Benny Goodman's First Recordings

In 1926, a 17-year-old Benny Goodman began recording. On September 14,1926, he recorded for Victor as a member of the Ben Pollack Orchestra, though the sides went unissued. Then, on an unknown date in the fall of 1926, Goodman was recorded informally by fellow musician Earl Baker on the already-outmoded cylinder format. There’s not too much of Benny improvising on these home recordings, and the decaying cylinders did not transfer well when they were prepared for issue in the 1970s. Still, these items serve as the first audio we have of Benny Goodman. We don’t get too much Goodman to listen to when Ben Pollack’s band returns to the studios for Victor on December 9, 1926; however, one side – “When I First Met Mary” – was issued on Victor 20394. This track and issue is really Benny’s first record, though it most probably follows the Baker cylinders. Then, on Friday, December 17, 1927, Pollack’s orchestra again recorded for Victor; on this record, Goodman is (arguably) truly heard for the first time on “He’s The Last Word” (issued in two takes: take two on 78, Victor 20425, in 1927, and take three on a 10” LP, on Label ‘X’–an RCA/Victor subsidiary under the catalogue number of 3003–in 1952), and “Deed I Do”, also issued in 1927 on 78 on Victor 20408.