In a review of a Benny Goodman concert in Monday's Style section, singer Carrie Smith's name was misspelled.
Benny Goodman's fans, young and old, filled every seat of the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall Saturday to check out the veteran jazzman's recent return to the big-band format. They were not disappointed: The leader's fabled skills were there in good supply, the program of Fletcher Henderson arrangements offered example after example of the writing craft at its best, and the 14-member unit swung its socks off. And what sheer pleasure it was to experience all of this in an acoustical setting with only a single front stage mike in use for vocals and several clarinet features.
"King Porter Stomp" and "Rappin' It Up" had the band roaring with abandon; "Blue Rum" was a model of brass and reed section precision and cooperation. The leader's clarinet was often heard soaring in high register over the full ensemble and he offered, in charming duo with guitarist James Chirillo, a wonderfully woody "Smile," which Charlie Chaplin composed for his 1936 film "Modern Times."
The young players Goodman assembled for the occasion impressed with their ability to play strictly within style and their excellence of technique. Outstanding soloists included trumpeter Randy Sandke with his Jamesian fire, big-toned tenor saxophonist Ted Nash, trombonist Dan Barrett, who combined the brash and the creamy smooth, and pianist Ben Aranov, whose light touch and striding momentum recalled Jess Stacy. Charlie Smith belted out "Gimme a Pig Foot and a Bottle of Beer" from Bessie Smith's final recording session in 1933, on which a 24-year-old Goodman was present. Considerable credit for the band's energy and rhythmic flexibility goes to drummer Louis Bellson, a star himself. It's a pity that, for about half of the orchestra-level audience, a view of Bellson's prowess and action was blocked by the raised piano lid.
The Charlie Byrd Trio opened with "Crazy Rhythm," a medley of Gershwin standards and Brazilian tunes, showcasing the guitarist's wide-ranging talents in both the contemplative and the brisk approaches to jazz.