Slip Horn Jive

Dick Fisher (g) replaces Arthur Ens. Bill Challis, E.G. Eberhard & Eddie Durham (arrangers) added.

RCA Victor Studios, New York – June 2, 1939, 1:30-4:30 PM

037179-1      Guess I’ll Go Back Home (TB vcl, BCh arr) Bluebird 10317

037180-1      I’m Sorry for Myself (MH, TB & GM vcl, CD arr)   Bluebird 10299

037181-1      Back to Back (MH vcl, EE arr)          Bluebird 10299

037182-1      Slip Horn Jive (ED arr)         Bluebird 10317

slip horn jive hmv

This next session packs a bit more heat – three out of the four selections are swingers and no Ray Eberle vocals.  While at Glen Island, Glenn continued adding new arrangers to his staff. Here we have the first contributions of three scribes. E.G. Eberhard I know nothing about, but the other guys were quite celebrated in their musical spheres. Bill Challis was already a veteran by 1939, having spent the late 1920s writing some of the most innovative, forward-looking jazz-tinged arrangements for Jean Goldkette and Paul Whiteman. Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang and Bing Crosby were all featured on recordings of Challis’s charts.  He later freelanced with Fletcher Henderson, Casa Loma and others through the 1930s, also leading his own big radio orchestra.

GUESS I’LL GO BACK HOME THIS SUMMER was Challis’ contribution here.  A lovely, elegiac composition by Willard Robison, who specialized in lovely, elegiac songs with a Midwestern feel, like OLD FOLKS, A COTTAGE FOR SALE and ‘ROUND MY OLD DESERTED FARM.  Mildred Bailey was the definitive interpreter of Robison’s oeuvre, but this Miller record ain’t bad.  A sweet opening chorus by Tex and the singing reeds modulates to the first Beneke solo vocal on disc and his Texas-style delivery suits the wistful lyrics.

Eddie Durham had shown his chops as trombonist, guitarist and arranger with Bennie Moten, Willie Bryant, Jimmie Lunceford and Count Basie.  Glenn revered the Basie band and so went to the source to try to capture some of the Basie brand of swing for his own organization. SLIP HORN JIVE was the first original Durham chart to be recorded by Glenn, but it wasn’t exactly as original as it seemed.

In August 1938, the Count performed Durham’s arrangement of the old jazz standard, NAGASAKI on a broadcast from the Famous Door nightclub on 52nd Street. An aircheck reveals all of SLIP HORN JIVE nestled within NAGASAKI, once the melody chorus is completed.  Trombonist Benny Morton played the swinging riff figures that are transferred to the whole Miller trombone section, thus suggesting the tune’s title.  Beneke, Hurley and Glenn contribute fine solos and the trombones get a workout, which was likely choreographed to a “T” in live performance.  I wonder if Glenn was aware that Durham was recycling himself when he bought this flagwaver?

Nagasaki (Slip Horn Jive) – Count Basie

The other two songs came from a new Fox B-musical, starring Tyrone Power and ice-skating darling Sonja Henie.  Since neither of the stars could sing, Rudy Vallee and Mary Healy were trucked in to handle the vocal chores. Stellar composer Irving Berlin, who had had a mega-hit the previous year with Fox’s ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND, contributed a full song score. Though none of them became hits, they were all pleasantly tuneful.  Artie Shaw recorded I POURED MY HEART INTO A SONG and WHEN WINTER COMES for Bluebird and Glenn got two others.  I’M SORRY FOR MYSELF captures the first cross-talk-whistle vocal by Marion Hutton and Tex Beneke (plus Glenn), which would soon become a delightful regular feature.  It’s also a wild swinger from the first note, with a great Charlie Dixon arrangement.


For years, I only knew BACK TO BACK from  a sensational aircheck version issued on the Miller ON THE AIR 3-LP set.  When I finally heard the studio recording, I found it to be slightly less exciting, but quite a winner on it’s own terms. Marion Hutton takes a swell vocal and there are groovy solos by Hurley and Beneke. Whoever the unknown E.G. Eberhard was, he certainly could pen a swinging chart.


With audiences dancing BACK TO BACK at Glen Island Casino, Glenn and the band remained on location for the next three weeks, returning to RCA for two sessions in quick succession toward the end of the month.

A Hard Day’s Afternoon at RCA

Legh Knowles, Clyde Hurley, Mickey McMickle (tp); Glenn Miller (tb,arr); Paul Tanner, Al Mastren (tb); Hal McIntyre, Wilbur Schwartz (cl,as); Gabe Galinas (as,bar); Tex Beneke, Al Klink (ts); Chummy MacGregor (p); Arthur Ens (g); Rollie Bundock (b); Maurice Purtill (d). Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton (vcl); Joe Lippman, Charlie Dixon (arr).

RCA Victor Studios, New York – May 25, 1939, 12:30-4:30 PM

037152-1      Blue Evening (RE vcl, JL arr)           Bluebird 10290

037153-1      The Lamp Is Low (RE vcl)                Bluebird 10290

037154-1      Rendezvous Time in Paree (RE vcl)            Bluebird 10309

037155-1      We Can Live on Love (MH vcl, CD arr)       Bluebird 10309

037156-1      Cinderella [Stay in My Arms] (RE vcl)        Bluebird 10303

037157-1      Moon Love (RE vcl)                           Bluebird 10303

On May 17, Glenn and the band opened at the prestigious Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, NY for the summer season. Miller friend and chronicler George T. Simon had this to say about the booking: ”The personnel of the band became set just before it went into Glen Island, (which) was the prestige place for people who listened to bands on radio. The band’s first semi-hit, ‘Little Brown Jug,’ came out just when it opened at Glen Island. That helped. And the clarinet lead in Glenn’s arrangements was such a romantic sound! It caught the public fancy during this exposure.”


With the increased radio time and more frequent record sessions, Glenn needed more arrangers on the payroll than just himself and Bill Finegan. On the May 25th date, Joe Lippman and Charlie Dixon contributed their first charts and more writing help was on the way.

Lippman had arranged for Benny Goodman since the first Let’s Dance broadcast in 1934, and he went on to play piano and arrange for Artie Shaw, Bunny Berigan and Jimmy Dorsey. Charlie Dixon was Glenn’s first black arranger, having worked for Fletcher Henderson and Chick Webb.

Also new to the band was trumpeter Clyde Hurley, who moved into the hot solo chair, replacing Bob Price. Hurley had been featured in Ben Pollack’s band, where he was spotted by George Simon, who recommended him to Glenn. Glenn and Hurley never got on especially well, but Hurley stayed for a year, contributing some fine jazz to the ensemble.

This marathon six-song session focused heavily on Ray Eberle ballads, with one swing number for Marion Hutton.  First up was BLUE EVENING by Isham Jones’ alumni Gordon Jenkins and Joe Bishop, who had earlier collaborated on the popular BLUE PRELUDE.  It’s a sad little song, effectively introduced by Mickey McMickle’s mournfully muted trumpet.  Joe Lippman’s arrangement effectively frames the song and Ray’s vocal.

Next up is another winner, THE LAMP IS LOW, the first of two classical adaptations recorded at this session.  This one is a Peter DeRose setting of  a lush melody from Ravel’s PAVANE FOR A DEAD PRINCESS.  Old friend Mitchell Parish crafted the lyrics.  Sweetly singing reed passages cushion Ray Eberle in a more upbeat mode and more reed sounds take it out at a brisk dance tempo.

streets of paris

Two songs follow from the soon-to-open (on June 19) Broadway revue, Streets of Paris.  With a score by Al Dubin and Jimmy McHugh, the show starred veteran comedian Bobby Clark and newcomers Bud Abbott & Lou Costello, who had begun their climb to fame through a series of guest spots on the popular Kate Smith radio show.  Future Broadway and film choreographer Gower Champion was also featured, but the rest of the cast was overshadowed by the sensational debut of Brazilian import Carmen Miranda. Abbott,_Costello_and_Carmen_Miranda

The big song hit of the show was Carmen’s SOUTH AMERICAN WAY; Glenn got two of the non-Carmen songs. RENDEZVOUS TIME IN PAREE is a rather awkwardly-constructed melody and lyric, at one point painfully rhyming the River “Seine” with “rain.”  Much better is WE CAN LIVE ON LOVE, Marion Hutton’s sole contribution to the date.  Clyde Hurley takes his first recorded solo, Glenn and Tex are heard briefly and Moe Purtill keeps the rhythm moving  with his ride cymbals, nicely recorded here.

CINDERELLA (STAY IN MY ARMS) is a rare dud of a song from top British composers Jimmy Kennedy and Michael Carr, who penned such hits as ISLE OF CAPRI, RED SAILS IN THE SUNSET and MY PRAYER, which Glenn would soon wax.  The lovely arrangement with Glenn featured on muted trombone gives the song more class than it deserves!

The date concludes with another hit, MOON LOVE, Andre Kostelanetz’s reworking of a memorable theme from the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, with lyrics by Mack David. Glenn’s reed section was made for such melodies and they really deliver. Ray is at his most relaxed, contributing his best recorded vocal so far.


Having completed this four-hour session at 4:30 on a Thursday afternoon, Glenn and the band would head back to Glen Island for an evening of music.  They would be back at RCA in a week.



A Stairway to Stardom

Legh Knowles, Bob Price, Mickey McMickle (tp); Glenn Miller (tb,arr), Paul Tanner, Al Mastren (tb)’ Hal McIntyre, Wilbur Schwartz (cl,as), Gabe Galinas (as,bar), Tex Beneke, Al Klink (ts); Chummy MacGregor (p); Arthur Ens (g); Rollie Bundock (b); Maurice Purtill (d). Ray Eberle (vcl).

RCA Victor Studios, New York – May 9, 1939, 9:15 PM-12:15 AM

036877-1      To You (RE vcl, GM arr)        Bluebird 10276

036878-1      Stairway to the Stars (RE vcl)          Bluebird 10276

After closing at the Meadowbrook on April 20, the band went on the road for the next month, attracting new audiences who had caught them on the air. During this period, Glenn swung by the Victor Studios in Manhattan for one quick session to cut two promising ballads, both of which became hits.


TO YOU was written by old-timers Benny Davis (author of BABY FACE and MARGIE) and Ted Shapiro (writer of IF I HAD YOU, and long-time accompanist to Sophie Tucker). Tommy Dorsey’s name is on the song too, likely because he was the first to promote it. TD waxed it for Victor on April 17 and then the Miller band cut it for the Bluebird budget label three weeks later.

Glenn’s arrangement is another first-chorus showcase for the Miller Sound, then a simple modulation to a smooth Ray Eberle vocal and a bit of back-and-forth between the reeds and brass for the final chorus. That’s all that was needed for another Miller winner.

After Glenn made it a hit, Harry James (with Frank Sinatra), Bob Crosby, Jan Savitt, Ella Fitzgerald and Teddy Powell all programmed the song on broadcasts through the summer of 1939.


STAIRWAY TO THE STARS began life as PARK AVENUE FANTASY, a multi-themed instrumental piece by Matty Malneck and Frank Signorelli, which they wrote for the Paul Whiteman band in 1934.


Whiteman recorded it as a 12-inch Victor record; eventually the main theme was extracted and had lyrics added by Mitchell Parish (again!). It’s a lovely, meandering melody and kudos to Parish for fitting an attractive set of words to it.

Though not credited, it’s likely a Miller arrangement, with brief solos by Tex and Glenn and an eager-sounding Eberle vocal. Brother Bob Eberly also recorded STAIRWAY with Jimmy Dorsey, as did Ella Fitzgerald with her band. Glenn’s photo was featured on the sheet music, another sign that the band was becoming popular.


The song had a later popularity as the love theme for Billy Wilder’s 1959 comedy classic, SOME LIKE IT HOT. Matty Malneck was involved with the film’s scoring, and cannily chose one of his own compositions to feature throughout the movie. Every time Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe get passionate, STAIRWAY TO THE STARS is heard in a lush arrangement.

The session out of the way, Glenn and the guys hit the road again for more one-nighters and Spring proms, leading to the Glen Island Casino opening on May 17.