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Centennial Celebration of “The King of Swing” and Jazz Clarinet Concludes RPO Pops Season

Rochester, NY— One hundred years ago, two clarinetists named Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman were born a year apart, and within two decades both were considered musical giants in a new world of “Swing” and “Big Band.”  A century later—but with an uncannily similar sensibility—26-year-old clarinetist Dave Bennett takes up the musical gauntlet from that pre-World War II era.  Joined by his quartet and vocalist Carol McCartney, he will perform with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on Friday, May 28 and Saturday May 29 at 8:00 pm at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.  This Goodman and Shaw centennial serves as the Finale of this season’s RPO Pops series.

Bennett and McCartney will be assisted by Paul Keller (bass/orchestra arranger), Peter Siers (drums), Tad Weed (piano), and Hugh Leal (rhythm guitar) in a medley of Goodman hits; Artie Shaw’s Nightmare; Cole Porter’s Begin the Beguine; Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm; plus Airmail Special; And the Angels Sing; Bugle Call Rag; Sing, Sing, Sing; and more.  With his double-breasted suit, spats, and wire-rim glasses, Bennett brings the time and mood of Benny Goodman’s “swing era” to a new generation of listeners, and has performed with more than 20 symphony orchestras.

Touted by Time magazine in 1937 as the “King of Swing,” Goodman began his clarinet studies at the age of 10, the same age as Bennett when he picked up the same instrument nearly 70 years later, teaching himself how to play Goodman songs by ear. At age 12, Bennett was invited to the bandstand of the famous Sweet Basil jazz club in New York to sit in with the trumpet great Doc Cheatham, and at age 17 was selected to perform as a special guest soloist with The Count Basie Orchestra. He has recorded with three of Benny Goodman’s famous band members: guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, vibraphonist Peter Appleyard, and pianist Dick Hyman.  All have endorsed Bennett as “the closest ever to Benny Goodman’s sound and style.” 

Tickets for these performances are $22-$62 with $75 box seats, online 24/7 at; by phone (454-2100); in-person from the RPO Box Office, 108 East Avenue, 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Saturday (non-concert Saturdays, 10:00 am-3:00 pm); and seven days a week at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply.  The Pops Series is sponsored by Wegmans; this concert is sponsored by First Niagara.


Paul Keller (bass/orchestra arranger) was Diana Krall’s bassist from 1995 through 1997, performing around the world with her quartet and recording on her Grammy-nominated CD tribute to Nat King Cole. He also has performed with such acclaimed artists as Joe Williams, Cab Calloway, Oliver Jones, Mulgrew Miller, Jay McShann, James Moody, Barry Harris, Doc Cheatham, and has appeared at America’s major jazz festivals and clubs.

Peter Siers (drums) has been a touring member of the Russell Malone Trio, and has performed with Mose Allison, Frank Morgan, Mulgrew Miller, Lee Morgan, Vince Giordano, and Franz Jackson. Pete has played major jazz festivals including the JVC, Newport, Sunfest, and Playboy Festivals; The North Sea Jazz Fest in Holland; and the Istanbul Festival in Turkey. 

Tad Weed (piano) spent 11 years touring as pianist for Paul Anka. Tad’s discography includes over a dozen CDs, and he has performed with some of the great names in jazz including Anita O’Day, Mundell Lowe, Carmen McCrae, Charles Lloyd, and Woody Herman. He is also in-demand as an educator, and has given clinics with Bill Watrous, Don Menza, George Shearing, and Bud Shank.
Carol McCartney (vocalist) is based in Toronto, Ontario, and has worked professionally in jazz and musical theater. She frequently has been featured in the big band led by internationally acclaimed vibraphonist Peter Appleyard, with such jazz greats as Slam Stewart, Mel Lewis, and Bucky Pizzarelli. Carol has been featured on CBC Radio’s national network jazz program After Hours, and was an opening act for comedian Bob Newhart.

Hugh Leal (rhythm guitar) has been active in promoting, recording, and playing jazz for 35 years.  His Parkwood Records label documented Doc Cheatham and some of the last of the surviving jazzmen from the ‘20s and ‘30s. He has recorded and toured with Dave Bennett and as a member of Marcus Belgrave’s Tribute to Louis Armstrong Octet.