ArtHouse Festival Series Presents Ross Wooldridge and His Tribute to the Benny Goodman Sextet

Ross Wooldridge

ArtHouse for Children and Youth is on the right track when it comes to embedding social outreach into a great concert experience.

On Sunday, October 27, 2012 Ross Wooldridge and his Tribute to the Benny Goodman Sextet entertained a sizeable audience at St. Luke’s historic church in Burlington.

Walking through the church grounds, past the old headstones of the cemetery, we approached the historic church and appreciated the precision and quality of the exterior architecture and interior workmanship. Everything at St. Luke’s is painstakingly preserved or restored to its original state. Wooldridge has accomplished a similar feat with his authentic performance of the Benny Goodman style and sound.

From the first note we were transported to the heyday of The Swing Era, the 1930s and 40s, when riffs and rhythms reigned. Wooldridge has achieved success not only with his authentic transcriptions and original arrangements, but also by employing the talent of some of Canada’s top players.

Wooldridge’s clarinet work was extraordinary. He wrapped his solos around the chord changes effortlessly, using the full range of his instrument. Wooldridge was backed up by Danny McErlain on piano, Jesse Barksdale on guitar, Glenn Anderson on drums, Chris Banks on bass and Don Thompson on vibraphone.

Wooldridge is establishing himself as a leader in this unique and specialized niche of “retro-music.” Similar to the audiophile’s relentless pursuit of the perfect analog recording methods and equipment, Wooldridge is pursuing the orchestrations, instrumentation, articulations, embellishments and timbres unique to the style, and confirmed by existing recordings from the Swing Era. The fruit of his efforts is satisfied audiences everywhere he plays. Many are already convinced of the beauty and excitement of the music, while others are being convinced for the first time.

Alex Pangman

Enraptured is not too strong a word to describe the degree of attention and enjoyment given as the audience drank in every note. Selections included Airmail Special, Honeysuckle Rose, Slipped Disc, Running Wild, and A Handful of Keys. Special guest vocalist Alex Pangman completed the show with authentic renditions of Slow Boat to China, A Hundred Years From Today, and I’ve Found a New Baby.

The event was a perfect way to set an upbeat tone for what promises to be a worthwhile concert series.

ArtHouse is an organization providing cost-free after-school, Saturday and summer programs in creative and visual arts, singing, improv and theatre and dance performance to children aged 7 to 11. The program has recently expanded into Burlington from its Oakville base, and this year will employ 50 volunteers and several paid instructors. Equal access to the arts is foundational for ArtHouse, and this year the organization intends to serve 600 kids.

The ArtHouse Festival Series Five 2013 will present some of Canada’s greatest musicians and finest young rising stars. Each concert will bring CMC National Prize winners to Oakville and Burlington stages. For $150 patrons of ArtHouse will be entitled to four concerts and two post-concert receptions where they will meet the artists.
For more information about supporting ArtHouse or the Festival Series, contact Don Pangman at

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