Legh Knowles, Clyde Hurley, Mickey McMickle, Johnny Best (tp); Glenn Miller, Paul Tanner, Al Mastren, Frank D’Annolfo (tb); Hal McIntyre, Wilbur Schwartz, Jimmy Abato, Tex Beneke, Al Klink (reeds); Chummy MacGregor (p); Dick Fisher (g); Rolly Bundock (b); Maurice Purtill (d).
RCA Victor Studios, New York – November 5, 1939, 3:00-7:45 PM
043354-1 Indian Summer (RE vcl) Bluebird 10495
043355-1 It Was Written in the Stars (RE vcl) Bluebird 10498
043356-1 Johnson Rag (BF arr) Bluebird 10498
043356-2 Johnson Rag (BF arr) first issued on LP
Once the Glenn Miller band’s three-week engagement at the Paramount Theater in New York ended on October 10, the band went on another East Coast tour of one-nighters and short engagements. Nearly a month went by without a recording session.
Three dates in November helped Glenn to catch up on some new songs. The first one to be waxed was actually very old, Victor Herbert’s INDIAN SUMMER, originally written as an instrumental composition in 1919. Fitted out with spanking-new lyrics by Al Dubin, the “new” song became a major hit for Glenn and Tommy Dorsey. Jazzman Sidney Bechet also made a memorable disc of it in 1940.
Willie Schwartz sweetly leads the reeds through the first chorus, with interjections by Tex Beneke’s sax. Ray Eberle takes a mellow vocal despite the rangy melody; kudos to lyricist Dubin for devising an evocative set of words that adds, rather than detracts, from the vintage song. Glenn continued to play with the arrangement after the record date, a fairly rare occurrence for his ballads; there is an aircheck that adds a Johnny Best trumpet solo after the vocal.
Opening on December 6th, Du Barry Was a Lady would be Cole Porter’s next big, splashy Broadway hit musical, starring Ethel Merman, Bert Lahr and Betty Grable. The show was full of rowdy songs, including FRIENDSHIP, BUT IN THE MORNING, NO!, KATIE WENT TO HAITI and WELL, DID YOU EVAH?, plus ballads DO I LOVE YOU? and WHEN LOVE BECKONED. Artie Shaw recorded the two ballads for Bluebird. Glenn got a decidedly lesser effort, IT WAS WRITTEN IN THE STARS.
It’s a pretty nothing song, as if Cole had exhausted all his melodic invention on the show’s other numbers. Unusually, Ray comes right in with the vocal after a short introduction. Also different was Clyde Hurley’s hot solo, a rarity on a Miller ballad. Despite these innovations, the record is not a classic.
Bill Finegan looks in with his arrangement of JOHNSON RAG, a 1919 composition that proved such a hit in this Miller version that lyrics were added by Jack Lawrence (wordsmith for ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL the same year). 10 years later, Jimmy Dorsey recorded a catchy Dixie-swing rendition that also racked up sales.
The RAG is a pretty simple melody, almost simplistic, but Finegan’s groovy-tempoed chart is hard to resist. All the hot men – Beneke, Hurley, Klink and Miller get good solo moments. The IN THE MOOD fadeout routine is reused here, which likely set the fans into ecstasies.
Only three songs were cut, as would be the case on the next session, some two weeks later.