BANGKOK -- A small, dedicated group is making sure that the legacy of that undeniably American form of music -- "swing" -- and its undeniable "king" -- Benny Goodman -- live on. What's ironic is that they're doing it in Thailand.

In a new two-story shrine on a noisy city street in Bangkok, the Benny Goodman Society has stored what it claims is the world's largest collection of the late clarinetist's music.

On hand are more than 15,000 recordings: 1,200 78 rpm records, 800 tapes, 600 acetate-coated aluminum disks, 600 LPs and test pressings in shellac made between 1922 and 1940.

"Most of the collection is in mint condition," said Kurt Mueller, 65, the society's first president.

Mueller, a Swiss import-export merchant, drummer and close friend of Goodman, has invested in the Goodman Society much of the fortune it took him a lifetime in business to acquire.

"I want to do my share to keep Benny Goodman's music alive as much as possible -- especially with the younger generation," he said. "That is what this collection is here for."

Goodman was the perfectionist who gave jazz its "swing" format, which became popular in the late 1930s.

"The tragedy is that the society would have thrived in gathering material if Goodman had lived a little longer," Mueller said.

Only three weeks before his death in 1986, Goodman agreed to arrange with his recording companies that the rights to his music go to the society, Mueller said.

Still, the society of eight devotees has some material never before released and some recorded by Mueller when he managed Goodman's tours in Thailand and Europe.

Mueller is taking no chances on security for the collection. At night its 12 rows of shelves on wheels are pushed together to form a huge box which is locked. Surveillance cameras watch over it. Entrances are electronically locked.

Jack Towers, who has remastered old tapes for the Columbia and Fantasy labels and the Smithsonian Institution, is working to "digitalize" scratchy old recordings, which will render a better sound quality to attract a new generation of listeners.

"This is very tough to do -- to get kids to listen to what their dads and granddads listened to," Towers said. "American music and world music deserves to have this stuff stick around and be available."

Towers "cleans" Goodman's music electronically. He then removes manually any noise the machines miss.

"I turn the tape over and very carefully etch it {noise} off. It can be a very long job if it is a very noisy disc," Towers said.

The society has been working for nearly two years to bring out a three-LP set of Goodman playing in Thailand in 1966, live 1980 performances in Berlin and music from a Danish television program.

"All never out on record before," Mueller said. "We have a helluva lot of material ready -- nine master tapes which could fill up 10 LPs at least."

The LP set, scheduled for release next fall, is to include a rare 1934 recording of Goodman playing a tenor saxophone instead of his trademark clarinet.

The society's collection also includes the only recordings of Goodman and Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a Goodman fan, friend and student for many years, playing together.

The society also is making a computer record of where Goodman played, when and with whom, in addition to storing a large collection of Goodman photographs via a laser printer, which converts the digital data into high-quality hard copy -- as small as a postage stamp or as large as a poster.

Later this year, Mueller plans a royal command performance with surviving alumni of Goodman's groups. Other plans include producing syndicated radio programs in five languages and, for society members, a monthly newsletter, cassettes, photos, videos and books.

In April, Mueller plans to meet in the United States with Goodman's family, Columbia records and RCA to discuss royalties.

"That has to be properly settled before I issue the records," he said. "I don't want to be a bootlegger."

The three-LP set is scheduled to be distributed first in Thailand, then gradually released in England, West Germany, Japan and the United States. Mueller expects some day to press enough records to supply the world -- but worries he won't be able to keep up with demand.

"This is only the beginning," he said as he snapped his fingers and tapped a foot in time to another Goodman tune.