Facing the Music at Brunswick

Brunswick Studios, New York – November 29, 1937

Bob Price, Pee Wee Erwin, Ardell Garrett (tp); Glenn Miller (tb,arr), Jesse Ralph, Bud Smith (tb); Irving Fazola, Hal McIntyre (cl,as), Tony Viola (as), Jerry Jerome, Carl Biesecker (ts); Chummy MacGregor (p); Carmen Mastren (g); Rollie Bundock (b); Doc Carney (d). Kathleen Lane sings on all titles except HUMORESQUE. George Siravo (arr).

22079-1         My Fine Feathered Friend (CB arr)            Brunswick 8034

22080-1         Humoresque (GS arr)           Brunswick 8062

22080-2         Humoresque (GS arr)           first issued on CD

22081-1         Doin’ the Jive (KL, JJ, GM & band vcl, GM arr)       Brunswick 8062

22082-1         Silhouetted in the Moonlight (GM arr)       Brunswick 8034

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Brunswick Studios, New York – December 13, 1937

22135-1         Every Day’s a Holiday (CB arr)       Brunswick 8041

22136-1         Sweet Stranger (GM arr)     Brunswick 8041

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Since the date in June, Glenn and the band had done pretty well for awhile. They triumphed with a 10-week extended gig at the Hotel Roosevelt in New Orleans. This success was followed by another popular engagement at Dallas’ Adolphus Hotel and a month at the Hotel Nicollet in Minneapolis. Six weeks at Boston’s Raymor Ballroom came next; all these engagements provided radio hookups for the band, some providing nationwide exposure.

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This schedule sounds promising, but in actuality Glenn was losing money along the way. His wife Helen was having serious health problems, a series of one-nighters through New England occurred during horrendous weather conditions and several drunks in the band caused wrecked cars and discipline problems. With no extended gigs on the horizon, Glenn gave up and broke up the band just after the start of 1938.

Before this occurred, the band fulfilled two more record dates, which ironically, turned out to be their best so far. Fine New Orleans clarinetist Irving Fazola joined during the Hotel Roosevelt stint and Glenn now had five reed players, so he dropped the guitar to save money. Tommy Dorsey’s Carmen Mastren was borrowed for the record dates, and Miller friend Pee Wee Erwin came in to boost the trumpet section for the discs. Also new was drummer Doc Carney, who brought a propulsive beat that booted the rhythm section along nicely.

Since Fazola was not a great section player, Glenn suggested he double the tenor sax lead on his clarinet, and in this casual way, the Miller Sound was introduced. Glenn used this new voicing occasionally at first, as on HUMORESQUE.

All the other tunes recorded were new ones, mostly from popular films and by top composers, including Johnny Mercer, Richard Whiting, Sam Coslow and Jimmy McHugh. MY FINE FEATHERED FRIEND was introduced by Alice Faye in YOU’RE A SWEETHEART; Rosemary Lane sang SILHOUETTED IN THE MOONLIGHT in HOLLYWOOD HOTEL; and EVERY DAY’S A HOLIDAY was the title song of the newest Mae West feature.

Kathleen Lane sang them all well, in a series of sparkling, distinctive arrangements that offered solo space to Fazola’s liquid clarinet, Jerry Jerome’s dry tenor and a bit of hot trumpet from Bob Price. Doc Carney backs the soloists especially well with rim shots and other swinging punctuations.

DOIN’ THE JIVE was Glenn and Chummy’s attempt at crafting a hit novelty, which didn’t hit. Glenn joined Jerry Jerome (nicknamed “Buck”) for a bit of rap patter, a gimmick he continued to use with Jerry’s successor, Tex Beneke, to greater effect.

Glenn had to work with the band for five hours on the December date, to produce only two, rather than the usual four finished masters, expected from a three-hour session.  This kind of indulgence could not be tolerated, as Glenn would vow on his next attempt to form a successful band.

On to 1938!

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