“The brilliant explosion known as Benny Goodman went off in 1935, and it hasn´t gone out yet.”
— Whitney Balliett in The New Yorker, December 28, 1977

“He remains one of the great contributors to music . . . people are fortunate to be able to enjoy this outstandingly talented man.”
— John McDonough in Coda, a Canadian jazz publication, September 1974

“Benny Goodman is our ´International Ambassador With Clarinet.´
— President John F. Kennedy upon Goodman´s return from a State Department sponsored concert tour in Russia, 1962

“Benny used to practice 15 times more than the whole band combined.”
— Harry James, famous trumpet player and cinema performer

“Working for Benny was like being in a school of music. His discipline, knowledge and ability were great determining factors in my musical life.
— Georgie Auld, tenor sax player

“Only Stokowski and Iturbi made as many Hollywood films as Benny Goodman, and his touring and recordings have made him the greatest living jazz legend throughout the world. His name is an ‘open sesame’ everywhere he goes.”
— Staten Island Sunday Advance, March 29, 1981

“From his earliest small group recordings through his big bands of the swing era – of which he surely was a king –and on until the end of his days, Benny Goodman was a master of the clarinet and a bandleader admired by musicians and non-musicians alike, across all musical categories and across the globe. His quicksilver tone, his insistent drive to swing the music, his ability to execute cleanly the most dramatic filigrees of passages – all these qualities made him one of the most imitated instrumentalists in the world. Equally important to his legacy is his courage in proclaiming that music is a universal language transcending race and nation. Both as musical units and as experiments in democracy, his integrated bands comprised magnificent gestures toward perfection in our time.”
— Robert J. O’Meally, Director of Jazz Studies, Columbia University, NYC

“Listening to Benny talk about the clarinet was like listening to a surgeon get hung up on a scalpel.”
— Artie Shaw, quoted in the liner notes by Richard M. Sudhalter for the CD “Benny Goodman: The Complete Trios”

“Mr. Goodman could not so much as poke his clarinet into camera range yesterday without producing an ovation. His followers, whose names – as you may have guessed – are legion, beat their hands as though they had toughened them in brine for days. They stamped their feet, and there didn’t seem to be a rubber heel in the house. They whistled, they bleated, they cooed and they got rhythm and they almost drowned out the picture … they were yowling for more when we left.”
— Frank S. Nugent, in a New York Times review of the WB film, Hollywood Hotel, on January 13, 1938

“I had never heard anyone play like Benny Goodman and had never seen anyone like him on the stage. I realize now that what impressed me and stayed with me in memory was – the sounds he made. He played so purely. The music seemed to come from him, not just the instrument he played with such mastery.”
— actress Marian Seldes

“Goodman was one of the most incredible players the field has ever known. It wasn’t just that his own improvisation was marvelous, the spirit, the verve, the vitality, even humor he played with, but the sheer technical mastery. He played that thing like it was a yo-yo. The only thing comparable from a technical point of view would be [Art] Tatum.”
— pianist-composer Mel Powell

“He was totally in command of everything. He was always a heavy practicer. Practiced all the time. He had ideas on how everything should be done in the band – bass, everything. Nobody argued with him, everybody had great respect for him.”
— lead trumpet player Jimmy Maxwell

“To me, some of the best moments of my life were playing with Benny.”
— bassist Sid Weiss

“Above all else, he was a great player, one of the greatest American music has produced. He brought his absolute talent and his invincible love of music to the fore every time he played. There are many other things connected to society and ethnicity that are often mentioned in a discussion of Benny Goodman but all of them are connected to his overwhelming affection for the art of the music and the fairness it should be allowed to express.”
— Stanley Crouch, Jazz Historian, author and Professor, Columbia University Jazz Program; columnist, New York Daily News

“I first knew and loved Benny Goodman’s music from my small collection of 78’s and first heard him live at the old Paramount. – I brought along a lunch bag so I could stay for 2 shows. On trumpet I used to imitate Ziggy Elman playing the freilach variation on Benny’s recordings of ‘The Angels Sing.’ And years later, when I became the music director of the Corpus Christi Symphony, I had him as a soloist in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. He told me we should play it as if we were singing “Don Giovanni.” Benny Goodman was a complete musician, the first-ever model for so many American artists who make no distinction between jazz and the classics.”
— Maurice Peress, Professor of Music, Queens College, NYC

“Let us not minimize the importance of Goodman’s role in classical music, if only because he commissioned and caused to be written a classic of twentieth-century literature, Bela Bartok’s Contrasts. In a sense, Benny was the first Third Stream musician, moving easily in and out of jazz and classical music, from the Palomar Ballroom to Carnegie Hall, or – to put it in another way – ‘jamming’ all night and then playing Mozart with his viola-playing friend and brother-in-law John Hammond.”
The Swing Era, The Development Of Jazz, 1930 – 1945
— Gunther Schuller

“Too many young musicians today want to win polls before they learn their instruments.”
— from press kit

“I feel that after you´ve done all the work and prepared as much as you can, what the hell, you might as well go out and have a good time.”
— Seattle Times, 1979

“If a guy´s got it, let him give it. I´m selling music, not prejudice.”

“That night at Carnegie Hall was a great experience. When the thing was first put up to me I was a little dubious about it, not knowing just what would be expected of us. But as soon as it was understood that we could handle things in our own way, and let the people listen to it as they would any other kind of music, the proposition really began to mean something. Personally, it was the thrill of my life to walk out on that stage with people just hemming the band in (some of the overflow audience actually sat on the stage) and hear the greeting the guys got.”
— from his landmark Carnegie Hall concert in 1938

“I don´t know. How much does Toscanini have?”
— On the day of his celebrated Carnegie Hall concert in 1938, Goodman was asked how long an intermission he would want that evening.

“I remember Glenn Miller coming to me once, before he had his own band, saying ´How do you do it? How do you get started? It’s so difficult.´ I told him, ´I don’t know but whatever you do don´t stop. Just keep on going. Because one way or the other, if you want to find reasons why you shouldn´t keep on, you´ll find ´em. The obstacles are all there; there are a million of ´em. But if you want to do something, you do it anyway, and handle the obstacles as they come. Even to this day, I don´t like people walking on stage not looking good. You have to look good. If you feel special about yourself then you´re going to play special. Look, what I mean is this: if an individual allows his personal standard to be eroded, something of what he does is going to be compromised. It´s a matter of detail, sometimes when you start losing detail, whether it´s in music or in life, something as small as not sending a thank-you note, of failing to be polite to someone, you start to lose substance”