Evening News From Moscow (C-Span, 6-6:30 p.m., E.T.): A report in Russian with simultaneous English translation. * WEDNESDAY
Benny Goodman: Adventures in the Kingdom of Swing (PBS, 8-9:05 p.m.): On Chicago's South Side in the early part of this century, you could do a lot worse than run around with a horn. That was especially true if you were the young Benny Goodman.
It's one of the many apt points made by narrator David Strathairn in this absorbing ``American Masters'' documentary. As a teenager, Goodman had already become a well-known musician in his hometown. What he did with his clarinet - then and later - is the heart of this colorfully detailed, multisourced journey through the career of the King of Swing, as Goodman was dubbed early in his career.
His clarinet made him our first true pop-culture hero. He changed the way people thought about music and the forms it could respectably take. It made Goodman and his band so popular that he could break the musical color barrier by bringing in black pianist Teddy Wilson.
Goodman knew Wilson was the best, and that's all that mattered to him. Goodman was single-minded about his art, the show makes clear. Sometimes this hurt people, and sometimes it helped him make big strides forward in both music and social consciousness.
The band performances sampled in the program - old films, clips of his 1938 Carnegie Hall concert, and shots from other gigs - are exhilarating as they recapture the mercurial sound that millions of fans have never gotten out of their ears. It has a fierceness, an uncompromising assertiveness that I always felt was not fully realized in the swing form, and sometimes seemed to be trying to burst out.
Eventually the Bebop revolution overtook Goodman, but his place remains, and this show makes that place vividly clear.
(Be prepared for breaks in the show, where local stations make appeals for funds during pledge week.)
Please check local listings for these programs.