by Joep Peeters
On the eve of the 39th Breda Jazz Festival, the American Cornettist Jim Goodwin passed away, shortly after his 65th birthday anniversary. From 1975 till 1995 he played almost every Breda Jazz Festival, he even lived for some time in Breda. Co-founder of the Festival Joep Peeters considers him as an important source of inspiration. Because of the start of the 39th Jazz Festival tomorrow, today an obituary by Joep Peeters.
The American cornettist Jim Goodwin was to many European musicians a source of inspiration, being an expert in the music that was fairly unknown in Europe, the music we failed to hear when it was there: the (real) American small band swing from the thirties. In 1976 Jim came to Europe for the first time, thanks to soprano saxophonist George Probert. Jim, together with his music friends as where were amongst others Dan Barrett and later on Tom Baker, taught us not to split up jazz in styles and currents as well as not to concentrate too much on stereotyped band line-ups. His phenomenal knowledge of Jazz history and his unique cornet playing, from raw and rough to subdued, but always “lightly and politely”, made him the ideal band leader, though this leadership was completely opposed to his gentle character. The bands varied from duos up till sometimes as many as twelve pieces. Without any form of rehearsal or arrangements. That way the the musicians learned to expose their own individuality, but without being in the way of the others. Collective Improvisation as it should be in the swing tradition. In the USA too, Jim was a shining example to many musicians. He was born and raised in Portland Oregon, but played mostly in California, particularly in Berkeley. He was a professional musician, but during some time he was America’s youngest stockbroker. In later years he was co-proprietor of a small beer factory. Thanks to Jim Goodwin, the Breda Jazz Festival has never become a The Hague-typed Dixieland festival and has maintained its own Classic Swing character. And the unique Duo Special concerts as well as the Festival Jam bands, nowadays called the Festival Surprise Bands, are the impressive heritage he gave to Breda.