The First Miller Session – Part 1

Let’s see how long I can keep this going!  Here’s the first of what I hope will be many posts concerning Glenn Miller’s civilian band recording sessions.


Columbia Records Studios – New York, April 25, 1935

Bunny Berigan, Charlie Spivak (tp); Glenn Miller (tb,arr), Jack Jenney (tb); Johnny Mince (cl,as), Eddie Miller (ts); Claude Thornhill (p); Harry Bluestone, Vlad Selinski (vln); Harry Waller (viola); Bill Schuman (cello); Larry Hall (g); Delmar Kaplan (b); Ray Bauduc (d); Smith Ballew (vcl).

CO-17379-1      A Blues Serenade (sb vcl)         Columbia 3051-D

CO-17380-1      Moonlight on the Ganges (sb vcl)       Columbia 3051-D

 CO-17381-1      In a Little Spanish Town    Columbia 3058-D

 CO-17382-1      Solo Hop (Jack Jenney & strings out)          Columbia 3058-D

After spending almost ten years arranging and recording with a myriad of bands and musicians, Glenn finally got his name out there as leader of a record date.  Not that it led to a recording contract; it was a one-off session for the tottering Columbia label, which would expire the following year. Revived in 1939, Columbia was reborn as a top label, second only to RCA Victor. But in 1935, Columbia had little going for it.  Glenn, on the other hand, was doing pretty well, as musical organizer and “hot” arranger for the prestigious new American band of British composer-arranger Ray Noble.  With a continuing gig at Rockefeller Plaza’s Rainbow Room, a record contract with RCA Victor and a weekly radio series sponsored by Coty Cosmetics, Ray and Glenn were riding high.

However Glenn managed to land the session, he made the most of it, filling the band with current and previous musical compatriots.

Spivak, Mince, Thornhill and Kaplan were then members of the Noble band.  Bluestone had been first violin on a number of Dorsey Brothers records that were arranged by Glenn. Waller played on an odd 1933 Dorsey date that remade several Miller arrangements from 1929 and 1930.  He later played with Artie Shaw.  Selinski fiddled on many 1930-31 Red Nichols dates with Miller.  Schuman was with Glenn in Ben Pollack’s 1928-29 band and in Artie Shaw’s first string-swing group in 1936 (more on that later).  Eddie Miller  and Bauduc had also been with Pollack and soon would be mainstays of the Bob Crosby orchestra.  Berigan appeared on a batch of Glenn-arranged Dorsey sessions and was then gigging between stays with Benny Goodman.   Jenney had been with Isham Jones and on several recent Red Norvo Columbia dates.  The least-known member of the personnel, Larry Hall, played guitar on an  number of ARC dates with Chick Bullock, the ODJB, then Russ Morgan & Toots Mondello.

Next time, let’s look at the music!

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