Sing Sing Sing by Benny Goodman and his Orchestra.
Alright all of Coronavirus couch cupcakes its time to get up and exercise—better yet dance, dance, dance! And what better to dance to than the Big Band Era classic Sing Sing Sing sometimes known as Swing Swing Swing.
Louis Prima wrote the music and lyrics for Sing Sing Sing.
Hyperkinetic jazz man Louis Prima wrote the music and lyrics for Sing Sing Sing and recorded it on the Brunswick label with his New Orleans Gang on February 28, 1936. Fletcher Henderson was the first out with a Big Band instrumental. But it was Benny Goodman who made it all his own and his signature piece.
It all came about when a routine Hollywood Columbia Records recording session got wildly out of hand. Goodman’s band for the session was star-studded and included Goodman on clarinet; Harry James, Ziggy Elman, and Chris Griffin on trumpets; Red Ballard and Murray McEachern on trombones; Hymie Schertzer and George Koenig on alto saxophones; Art Rollini and Vido Musso on tenor saxophone; Jess Stacy on piano; Allan Reuss on guitar; Harry Goodman on bass; and Gene Krupa on drums. The song was arranged by Jimmy Mundy for a typical 3½ minute 10 inch 78 rpm record.
According to Helen Ward “Gene [Krupa] just refused to stop drumming when he got to the end of the third chorus, where the tune was supposed to end, so Benny blithely picked up the clarinet and noodled along with him. Then someone else stood up and took it, and it went on from there.” In the same way samples of another popular song Christopher Columbus by Chu Berry for the Fletcher Henderson band were added. It was classic jazz improvisation, not the tight charts dance bands usually adhered to. The result was an 8 min 43 seconds recording that took up both sides of a 12-inch 78. That’s right, you had to get up and flip the record on the phonograph to hear the whole thing.
Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall in 1938.
The version Goodman and the boys played at their 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall was even longer coming in at 12 minutes and 30 seconds. Critic Bruce Eder a described that night as “the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history: jazz’s ‘coming out’ party to the world of ‘respectable' music.’” The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert by Benny Goodman was released as a two-disc LP in 1950. Goodman also recorded a version for the sound track of The Benny Goodman Story starring Steve Allen and Donna Reed and released by Universal-International in 1956.
Goodman recorded Sing Sing Sing again for the bio-flick The Benny Goodman Story.
In 1950’s Louis Prima got to record the song again with lyrics changed to Swing swing swing with his wife Keely Smith.
But for most of us the song will be forever Goodman’s.