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Clarinet A La King: Tribute to Benny Goodman in New Jersey

Dan Levinson
Dan Levinson Tom Salvas

After playing a series of one-night concerts across the country to nearly empty rooms, on August 21, 1935, Benny Goodman's Orchestra packed an estimated crowd of 10,000 into the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles on the final stop of a cross country tour.

The concert, filled with fans that heard Goodman on the radio, vaulted the Orchestra to stardom and made Goodman himself one of the first pop music icons as the Swing Era was born.

Fast forward 79 years later, Algonquin Arts Theatre celebrates the anniversary of the birth of swing with “Clarinet A La King:” THE Tribute to Benny Goodman on Sunday, August 24 at 3 p.m.

In-demand reed man and Goodman devotee Dan Levinson plays Goodman’s parts backed by James Langton's New York All-Star Big Band and vocalist Molly Ryan. The All-Star Big Band has handpicked the Big Apple’s best Jazz and Swing musicians including Seneca Black, Randy Sandke, Charlie Caranicas, Matt Musselman, Joe McDonough, Peter and Will Anderson, Jay Rattman, Mark Shane, Mike Weatherly and Brooks Tegler.

Levinson is a specialist in the music of the 1920s and 1930s as both a band leader and a sideman. As a member of Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks (who have been featured in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and elsewhere), Levinson appeared on the soundtrack for the film “The Aviator.” He appeared at Algonquin Arts Theatre last December in the tribute “Songs & Letters of World War II.” Currently touring in Europe, Levinson returns to the U.S. in time for this swing birthday concert.

“This concert promises to be absolutely spectacular,” said Algonquin Arts Theatre Executive Director William Whitefield. “An opportunity to hear musicians of this caliber play these great arrangements doesn't happen often. We’re extremely fortunate to be THE theatre hosting this celebration of swing.”

The concert features classic arrangements of Fletcher Henderson, Jimmy Mundy, Edgar Sampson, Mel Powell, and Eddie Sauter, which helped bring the Benny Goodman Orchestra to the forefront of the Swing Era with such hits as "Don't Be That Way," "Stompin' at the Savoy," "Bugle Call Rag," "And the Angels Sing," "Why Don't You Do Right," "King Porter Stomp," and of course "Sing, Sing, Sing."

Regular seating is $34 for adults, $31 for seniors and $25 for students. A limited quantity of premium seating is available for $7 more. Purchase online at algonquinarts.org, by calling 732-528-9211 or by stopping in to the Box Office at 173 Main Street from 12-6 p.m. on weekdays or 12-4 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are subject to $2 processing fees.

Algonquin Arts Theatre (AAT) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1992 with the mission to provide cultural enhancement and arts education to all audiences at the Jersey Shore through high-quality performances and programs in theatre, music, film and dance. The end goal is to foster appreciation of the arts and promote lifelong learning, particularly among underserved audiences including the economically disadvantaged, senior citizens and individuals with disabilities.