Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History

Lesa Cline-Ransome, illus. by James E. Ransome. Holiday House, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-2362-0
In 1936, the Benny Goodman Trio became the first interracial band to perform in public, with Benny Goodman (the son of Jewish immigrants) on clarinet and African-American Teddy Wilson on piano (Gene Krupa, on drums, completed the trio). Writing in punchy free verse that echoes the bounce of both men’s music, Cline-Ransome traces Goodman and Wilson’s parallel—but separate—paths to jazz fame, before eventually meeting in 1935. Working in watercolor outlined in loose pencil, Ransome strongly evokes the allure of music that Goodman and Wilson both felt as boys, as well as way jazz all but demanded people get up and move: “The stage was hot/ The dancer floor was hotter/ The music was hottest.” Ages 8–12. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/27/2014
Release date: 01/01/2014
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