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.”

Image

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.

gmmoonlove

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.

 

 

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