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Effecting Right renewal

by | Feb 12, 2022 | Benny Goodman, renew, Right vs Effective

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What is Effective about renewal

We were wrapping up one of our last tests at Berkeley, up the hill further, into the Bevatron – a device that is a football field in diameter – such that it can generate Billions of electron Volts per particle. As such, you don’t need a vacuum, and simply set up your target in an open room. Surrounded by thick concrete, we were just taking down our computer when an ambulance arrived. A young 14-year-old was wheeled into the same spot, and a large metal mask put over most of his head – a small hole where the beam would go into his brain…

… how could you do that? I mean sit there still while this entire mountainside of equipment is directed into your brain. Yes, the energy was focused and could stop within millimeters of the tumor that was killing you… but what would quiet the voices that would be saying… well what? It was in fact a Sunday morning, our beam time having ended at 8 after an all-nighter… but nothing compared to this young boy. What faith renewed him… and how did Right factor into that?

Right is renewed with faith Effectively

Like me, Lorry Black first fell in love with Benny Goodman’s album “The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert”. Years later, Black, as the associate director of the Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music at UCLA, organized a tribute concert entitled “Benny Goodman: Ahead of His Time”. “The 1938 concert was a pivotal point in music history in that it was the first time anyone brought any form of jazz onto a premier classical concert hall,” Black said. “On top of that, (Goodman) went on stage with African-American musicians … and incorporated their sound into what he was doing musically. Goodman used his popularity and fanbase to fight against the notion of racial segregation in music.”

Harsh assessments have been leveled at Goodman and his music from time to time. Some have suggested that he was a Caucasian musician who exploited the music of African Americans for his own benefit, popularizing a bland hybrid for mainstream white audiences. Even if this were true, the fact remains that few entertainment professionals of his stature did more to challenge longstanding racism in the music industry. And though Benny catered to popular tastes, his music always contained unmistakable jazz elements and presented outstanding musicians regardless of their ethnicity.

Goodman’s dedication to jazz’s racial integration came in part from his Jewish upbringing, Black said. Goodman got his first clarinet from his synagogue, and his clarinet teacher taught both African-American and Jewish students in Chicago, both races that were actively discriminated against. Goodman also took Sunday School lessons from the synagogue, in which themes of argumentation, reinterpretation, and reinvention were emphasized throughout religious texts such as the Talmud, which reads as an argument between two people about Jewish law. Black said Goodman utilized the concept of looking at something old and reinterpreting it in his music. So his faith was a foundation of both Right and Effective, and permeated what he did to the point that he didn’t really talk about it.

renewal may be more Effective slowing down…

Amanda Albini, a fourth-year ethnomusicology student and the drummer in the UCLA Jazz Orchestra said “In Goodman’s era, musicians played more on top of the beat, which pushed the music and the beat forward more quickly. Jazz music today is often more laid-back, meaning musicians play their notes at the last possible minute within the tempo, which allows listeners to relax into the music.” It is interesting to note that after Benny’s trip out West, the local Jazz scene started to develop… and due to an ASCAP/musicians strike in the ’40s, there was no music played on the radio for a few years…

… and the West Coast jazz that evolved was in fact much slower, much more laid back, much more Californian. Its own contribution to the Right way to play jazz, it renewed music with a richer, slower feel that you can still hear today in groups like Tom Scott and the LA Express and others.

As we reach the end of this journey with Benny, what has renewed me is not just his focus on Diversity, or Right and Effective, but the real grit and creativity he constantly pursued. As I was listening deeply into the catalog of the trio, quartet, quintet, sextet, to say nothing of the full orchestra, these were the best musicians of their time. He pulled them all together and allowed them to bring out the best in each other. From Lionel’s runs on the Vibraphone to Charlie on the Gibson Guitar, to Teddy dancing on the piano keys, Benny was able to sit back, and then step in with his own amazing solos. His foundation of faith helped him change the face and sound of music forever.

What faith renews you Effectively and Right?

Watching that young boy prepare to have a potential life-saving (or ending) beam bombarding his brain, I was reminded of a bumper sticker that I had on my refrigerator: “Faith isn’t Faith until it is all you’re hanging on to”. This season of science reminded me of the many times people asked “how can you believe in science and religion”. Easy – it is WAY simpler than not. Even here, I was reminded that everything around us was built of about 30 lego blocks… each of those built out of 3 simple pieces. Through these last few years of testing all of our foundations, have you found yours stable and Effective at steering you through all the different versions of Right we have been bombarded with? If not, I would suggest slowing down (I know… rich coming from me) and reminding yourself that Simple things like faith can renew you. And listen to this beautiful ending to our study of Benny – Goodbye.

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