A Softer Side of Benny Goodman
As retold by Charlie Jennison
This anecdote comes from trumpet player Tommy Barron, who played many sessions with pianist Tommy Gallant, both at the Library Restaurant on State Street and The Press Room on Daniel Street. In 1956, when Tommy [Gallant] was in the Marines, he found himself on furlough for a couple of days around Christmas time in New York City. He found out through the musicians’ grapevine that Benny Goodman was performing a concert that night somewhere in the city, but did not know the exact location. According to Barron, Tommy found a phone booth, prevalent in the pre-cellphone days, looked up Benny's home number in the New York City directory, and called him at home to ask where he was playing that night. When Benny found out that Tommy was a Marine on active duty, he asked him where the phone booth was located and told him to wait there. Shortly after the call, a cab arrived and gave Tommy a lift to the concert hall where a ticket was reserved in his name! Benny's sidemen all agreed how tough he was on the bandstand, but I thought this story gives a nice insight into another side of his personality.