Carnegie Hall Jumpin’ Jive

Carnegie Hall, New York – October 6, 1939

H2PP-6679/6680               RCA Victor LPM1506 (all titles)

Moonlight Serenade

Runnin’ Wild (BF arr)

Sunrise Serenade

Little Brown Jug (BF arr)

Stairway to the Stars (RE vcl)

To You (RE vcl)

One O’Clock Jump

Londonderry Air [Danny Boy] (GM arr)

The Jumpin’ Jive (MH vcl)

F.D.R. Jones (MH & Band vcl)

Hold Tight (MH & Band vcl)

In the Mood

Bugle Call Rag (GM arr)

Moonlight Serenade

GM CARNEGIE HALL 1930SThe American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) was founded in 1914 to collect and distribute licensing fees from performances of their members’ compositions. To celebrate their 25th anniversary, it was decided to present a series of free-to-the-public concerts, both classical and popular, all over New York. On the evening of October 9th, Carnegie Hall rang with the sounds of four popular dance and swing bands. Paul Whiteman, Fred Waring, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller each took the stage for a half-hour set that night.

glenn-miller-and-his-orchestra-moonlight-serenade-running-wild-rca-victorThe sounds of that memorable concert were professionally recorded; the Whiteman and Goodman portions have been privately issued. In 1958, RCA Victor commercially published Glenn’s contribution on LP and EP. Since the release of The Glenn Miller Story in 1954, RCA had produced two dozen Miller LP reissues, all of them snapped up by a seemingly insatiable public. The opportunity to release a “new” Glenn Miller album was a no-brainer, resulting in The Glenn Miller Carnegie Hall Concert. It has stayed in print, on vinyl and CD, ever since. Personally, I’ve always found the cover design slightly creepy, with Glenn appearing like a waxen figure.  A later UK issue of the LP has a more imaginative design, even though Carnegie Hall appears to be on fire!gmcarnegie ukTo modern listeners, this recording provides the only chance to hear the original Miller band in a typical live stage-show performance, likely similar to the shows they were then doing daily at the Paramount Theater.

Apparently, the four bandleaders did not compare notes before the concert, as Whiteman, Goodman and Miller all included SUNRISE SERENADE in their playlists and both Goodman and Miller played ONE O’CLOCK JUMP.

The Miller concert begins with a laudatory introduction by Gene Buck, the President of ASCAP and MC for the evening. After a short statement of their theme, Glenn launches immediately into RUNNIN’ WILD, a sure-to-please-all swinger. The band is miked amazingly well, considering how vintage the recording is, much better than Benny Goodman’s famous Carnegie Hall Concert of the preceding year. Beneke, Hurley and Purtill get a bit frantic and the crowd responds, though the recording only captures the audience response distantly.

After that hot opener, the popular SUNRISE SERENADE is trotted out, with its languorous Beneke sax chorus. LITTLE BROWN JUG has the band singing at the outset, an addition since the record was made. The boys swing it lightly and politely, getting into a good groove. Moe Purtill solidly backs Beneke, Hurley and Glenn’s solos.

Glenn then steps up to introduce Ray Eberle, who obliges with short choruses of two of his early hits, TO YOU and STAIRWAY TO THE STARS.

“Our version of Count Basie’s famous ONE O’CLOCK JUMP” is next on the program, in a nearly five-minute showpiece that really rocks. The band chorus is back, chanting, “Sent for you yesterday and here you come today…” for some reason and forgotten man Al Klink gets a fine solo spot. Never recorded commercially, Glenn liked the number enough to program it on many broadcasts.

glenn-miller-bandmondays-best-bet--glenn-miller-orchestra-invites-syracuses-5yx0xth9“In order to offer a more varied program,” as Glenn says, LONDONDERRY AIR (aka DANNY BOY) follows. This was one of Glenn’s earliest arrangements (but not recorded until 1940) and was often featured during stage shows, with colored lighting effects highlighting the various sections of the band. Wonder if this was done at Carnegie?

After polite applause, the band strikes up a fanfare that begins a rollicking segment by Marion Hutton. She knocks out three hot ones in her effervescent manner, giving an audio approximation of the on-stage fireball antics that consistently wowed audiences. Oddly, all three tunes, THE JUMPIN’ JIVE, F.D.R. JONES and HOLD TIGHT went unrecorded commercially, though lengthier airchecks of each do exist. (For decades, the original LP listed the first song as JIM JAM JUMP, which was finally corrected on the CD.)

gmmarionhuttonWhat could possibly follow Marion? How about “our latest recording, IN THE MOOD!” Though the record had only been out for a short time, the audience clearly loves it, clapping on the wrong beat during the fade-outs before the ending.

Upping the temperature is BUGLE CALL RAG, “featuring our drummer, Maurice Purtill.” This was another early chart by Glenn, which wouldn’t be set down in the studio until 1940. Moe gives out with one of his more imaginative drum solos and the whole band surely did their choreographed routine, throwing and waving their horns, which was happily preserved in the film, ORCHESTRA WIVES.

A short reprise of MOONLIGHT SERENADE ended the concert and then the band was off to the 34th Street Armory for another concert. They sure were keeping busy!

And once the Paramount engagement ended on October 10th, Glenn headed off on another East Coast tour that continued until the band began it’s second Meadowbrook engagement on November 16th.

gmcarnegie bg

Poster for an upcoming recreation of the Goodman and Miller portions of the 1939 ASCAP concert!

A Paramount October

Tommy Mack (tb) replaces Toby Tyler; Benny Carter (arr) added

RCA Victor Studios, New York – October 3, 1939, 11:30 AM-2:30 PM

042780-1     Blue Rain (RE vcl)       Bluebird 10486, Victor 20-1536

042781-1     Can I Help It ? (RE vcl)           Bluebird 10448

042782-1     I Just Got a Letter (MH vcl)   Bluebird 10448

RCA Victor Studios, New York – October 9, 1939, 11:30 AM-4 PM

042923-1     Bless You (RE vcl)     Bluebird 10455

042924-1     Bluebirds in the Moonlight (MH vcl, BC arr)   Bluebird 10465

042925-1     Faithful Forever (RE vcl)       Bluebird 10465

042926-1     Speaking of Heaven (RE vcl)             Bluebird 10455

ParamountTheaterTimesSquare1940s8x10Glenn Miller and his band got massive on-air exposure during their spring and summer gigs at the Meadowbrook and Glen Island, but didn’t make much money. Now that they were hitting the road, the money was pouring in. Their September-October three-week engagement at the New York Paramount alone would wind up grossing them $150,000, an amazing quantity of money for 1939!

How they managed to squeeze in two record dates while playing all day at the theater is a wonder.   The October 3rd date begins with two Ray Eberle vocals, both songs composed by Jimmy Van Heusen, with different wordsmiths, Johnny Mercer and bandleader-songwriter Eddie DeLange. Van Heusen would contribute close to a dozen songs to the Miller discography and later teamed with Sammy Cahn to become Frank Sinatra’s “house” composer.

gm blue rainBLUE RAIN is not one of Mercer’s more inspired lyrics, but the Miller arrangement is so charming that it carries the performance along. It was enough of a hit that it was reissued in 1943, as the backing for one of the band’s final recordings, CARIBBEAN CLIPPER.

gmcan i help itCAN I HELP IT? is totally forgotten, both as a song and as a Miller recording, never reissued until the 1980s. A standard-issue pop tune of the era, it does capture the band and Eberle at their most relaxed.

I JUST GOT A LETTER is a welcome swinger after a surfeit of ballads. Dave Franklin’s song (he was the composer of THE MERRY-GO-ROUND BROKE DOWN and WHEN MY DREAMBOAT COMES HOME) isn’t much, but the Miller crew mixes it into quite a tasty salad, with a nice Marion vocal, touches of Hal McIntyre’s sax and Moe’s drums. Some loose riffing winds it up. Somehow, the great Ethel Waters, who rarely handled this type of novelty, also waxed it for Bluebird!

Only three tunes were captured at the October 3rd session, but nearly a week later, the band set down its usual allotment of four songs, with Ray, once again, getting the majority of them.

BLESS YOU sounds very unpromising, as either a benediction or the response to a sudden sneeze. It’s one of the few songs written by Don Baker, then the featured organist at the Paramount Theater. Glenn likely got the tune from him during this engagement. Eddie Lane’s lyrics are pretty unimaginative, but the song is quite melodic and the chart shows off the reed sound at its lushest. Ray sings a lower ending here, but on an aircheck issued by RCA, he makes an octave jump and goes way high for the final notes.

By accident or design, Glenn managed to record a number of songs from kid-friendly films – THE WIZARD OF OZ, PINOCCHIO, DUMBO, MR. BUG GOES TO TOWN and here, two songs from Max Fleischer’s cartoon feature, GULLIVER’S TRAVELS.

gm gulliverParamount Pictures’s dependable house composers, Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin, wrote both. FAITHFUL FOREVER was the movie’s hit ballad and features tightly muted brass and one of Eberle’s sweetest vocals. Great for romantic fox-trotting and holding your best gal close.

gmfaithfulGT sheet musicWe get a welcome dose of Marion on BLUEBIRDS IN THE MOONLIGHT, which is also distinguished by a Benny Carter arrangement. A bit of Chummy’s boogie-woogie piano starts it off, with some imaginative reed backgrounds, as one would expect from Carter. After Marion’s twinkly vocal, with her sounding more self-assured than usual, Clyde Hurley, who has been barely in evidence for the last few sessions, gets an excellent half-chorus solo. A real winner all around.

Composer Jimmy Van Heusen returns with SPEAKING OF HEAVEN, another celestial ballad. Lyricist Mack Gordon would later play a very important part in the Miller pantheon, as the wordsmith for both of Glenn’s feature film scores. Tex Beneke is featured on the unusual intro and Ray takes a very smooth vocal.

And that’s it, recording-wise, for October 1939. However, between these two sessions, Glenn made a prestigious appearance at another important venue, which luckily was recorded – we’ll cover it next time!