“GLENN MILLER CONCERT” – Are You Rusty, Gate?

GLENN MILLER CONCERT, VOLUME 1

RCA LPT-16

One O’Clock Jump

My Blue Heaven

Going Home

Jersey Bounce

St. Louis Blues

Georgia On My Mind

Tiger Rag

Everybody Loves My Baby

glen-miller-glenn-miller-concert-vol-1-10-rca-lpt16-very-good-good-8bed7755ffbb2ac33e3ca827d7171dd6

GLENN MILLER CONCERT, VOLUME 2

RCA LPT-30

Anchors Aweigh

My Buddy

I Got Rhythm

I Dream Of Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair

Vilia

Limehouse Blues

On The Alamo

On Army Team

Original UK 10" LP

Original UK 10″ LP

GLENN MILLER CONCERT, VOLUME 3

RCA LPT-3001

Dipper Mouth Blues

April in Paris

Are You Rusty, Gate?

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto

Fanhat Stomp

Sleepy Lagoon

Introduction to a Waltz

Intermezzo

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A few dates here – Columbia introduced the LP record in 1948. In 1950, Benny Goodman’s classic Carnegie Hall Concert was issued as a 2-LP set and Columbia reaped huge sales. With the vintage big bands undergoing a nostalgia boomlet at the time, rival RCA Victor fumed. They had Benny Goodman under contract in 1938 and felt that the rights to the famed concert should be theirs. Since Columbia had “stolen” it from under their nose, RCA quickly retaliated with a live “concert” package by their biggest band name, Glenn Miller.  Even with newer popular bands like Ralph Flanagan, Sauter-Finegan and Buddy Morrow on their roster, Glenn still had clout, as they would soon see.

RCA had introduced the 45 rpm disc in 1949 as an attempt to steal some thunder from Columbia’s innovative LP format, launching the “war of the speeds” that would continue for a few years. LP, 45, 78 – which would prevail? As we know, LP eventually became the preferred format for albums and 45 for single releases. Very, very reluctantly, RCA capitulated and began issuing LPs in 1950, while still pushing 45s whenever and wherever they could.

Even with the huge success of the Columbia Benny Goodman 12-inch LP set, RCA still could not envision anything larger than 10-inch LPs for popular music, so their first Glenn Miller live albums were issued in 1951 on three separate 10-inchers and also, by the way, on 45 and 78, just to play it safe. It wasn’t until 1955 that 12-inch LPs were regularly used for pop and jazz music.

This first “new” Glenn Miller release of the 1950s was comprised of 24 instrumental numbers, both ballads and hot jive, from Glenn’s large archive of Chesterfield radio broadcasts. Taken off the air by a professional recording company for Glenn’s personal reference, no thought had earlier been given to a commercial release of this material. Since these aircheck discs were of excellent fidelity, they were ripe for exploitation by RCA.

A goodly sum was paid to the Miller Estate for use of this material, along with remote broadcasts in NBC’s own archives. This repository of live Miller has been mined for RCA LP and CD releases into the 2000s.

When they were released in 1951, these CONCERT LPs were a revelation, showing off the band’s “sweet” and jazz modes, in a more relaxed manner than their RCA recording sessions. Vocalists Ray Eberle and Marion Hutton are retired to the sidelines, giving full attention to the arrangers and instrumentalists.

The jazz soloists get generous space – Tex Beneke, Clyde Hurley, Johnny Best, Billy May, Bobby Hackett, Ernie Caceres, Moe Purtill, Glenn himself and even talented tenorist Al Klink, who rarely got a chance to shine on record.

These selections also showed off the talents of Glenn’s arrangers. Highlights include Bill Finegan’s exquisite ballad charts of “Vilia,” “April in Paris” and “Sleepy Lagoon;” Jerry Gray swingers like “Jersey Bounce,” “Introduction to a Waltz” and “Everybody Loves My Baby;” and Billy May’s innovative ballad arrangement of “I Got Rhythm.” Glenn is also represented as an arranger, with “Dipper Mouth Blues,” a reworking of a chart he wrote back in 1934 for the Dorsey Brothers.

For those critics who denigrated Glenn’s as a “sweet” band, there are such venerable jazz standards as “One O’Clock Jump,” “Tiger Rag,” “St. Louis Blues,” “Limehouse Blues” and “Everybody Loves My Baby.”

1956 12" reissue

1956 12″ reissue

In 1956, when 10” LPs were well and truly dead, RCA repackaged this material on two 12” discs, with the innovative titles, THE SOUND OF GLENN MILLER (RCA LPM-1189) and GLENN MILLER CONCERT (RCA LPM-1193). These two albums stayed in print for nearly 30 years.

1956 12" reissue

1956 12″ reissue

Their success led directly to RCA pulling out the stops for their next Miller project, the massive LIMITED EDITIONS, Volumes 1 & 2. 10 full LPs of Miller magic also proved to be cash register magic, with sales beyond any accountant’s wildest imagination!

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Long Time No See, Baby

Mickey McMickle, Johnny Best, Ray Anthony, Billy May (tp); Glenn Miller, Paul Tanner, Jimmy Priddy, Frank D’Annolfo (tb); Hal McIntyre, Wilbur Schwartz, Ernie Caceres, Tex Beneke, Al Klink (reeds); Chummy MacGregor (p); Jack Lathrop (g,vcl); Trigger Alpert (b); Maurice Purtill (d); Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton (vcl); Bill Finegan, Jerry Gray (arr).

RCA Victor Studios, New York – November 15, 1940, 1:45-4:45 PM

057648-1      Somewhere (RE vcl, JG arr)             Bluebird 10959

057649-1      Yes, My Darling Daughter (MH & Band vcl, JG arr) Bluebird 10970

 

RCA Victor Studios, New York – November 22, 1940, 1:30-4:30 PM

057661-1      A Stone’s Throw from Heaven (RE vcl, BF arr)  Bluebird 11063

057662-1      Helpless (RE vcl, JG arr)       Victor 20-1600

057663-1      Long Time No See, Baby (MH vcl, JG arr)   Victor 20-1563

057663-2      Long Time No See, Baby (MH vcl, JG arr)    first issued on LP

057664-1      You Are the One (RE vcl, BF arr)     Bluebird 11020

gm ASCAPThe war in Europe was having less effect on America than the war between ASCAP and BMI that had also been brewing since 1939. The American Society of Composers and Publishers had been issuing warnings to the radio networks that they would shortly be increasing song royalty charges by an enormous amount. In retaliation, broadcasters formed a competing royalty agency, Broadcast Music Incorporated. Since ASCAP had nearly every major songwriter and music publisher under their umbrella, they weren’t overly worried about competition from BMI. The new agency tried signing up composers who went underneath ASCAP’s radar, like country, blues and Latin writers, even amateurs.

By the end of 1940, BMI had built up a rather meager catalog, but it would have to do. When the ASCAP deadline of January 1, 1941 came around, the products of BMI and the public domain would have to suffice for all music broadcast by NBC and CBS. The smaller Mutual network signed early with ASCAP, so they had no worries. To make matters worse, the networks decreed that BMI tunes had to be interspersed with ASCAP songs starting on October 10, 1940, to get listeners used to the new music. For each half-hour music broadcast, four of the usual eight tunes played had to be from BMI or elsewhere.

gm ascap coverAncient, out-of-copyright composers like Stephen Foster and Eddie Leonard suddenly became popular again, as did classical song adaptations (which were already a familiar occurrence). Tchaikovsky and Debussy were now hot tickets! South American music, also newly popular, got a big boost when the song libraries of Ernesto Lecuona and Alberto Dominguez were raided for melodies and new BMI-friendly English lyrics were added.

Glenn Miller’s recorded output would shortly begin reflecting the new radio rules, since Glenn certainly wanted to get his records played on the air. His own Mutual Music publishing arm signed with BMI and he corralled any of his arrangers and musicians who also wrote songs.

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The short session of November 15th consisted of two ASCAP compositions, one a flop and the other a huge hit. SOMEWHERE is a bland song from of all things, an ice skating revue, the Ice Capades of 1941. It was written by distinguished songwriters Peter DeRose and John Latouche (the lyricist of Cabin in the Sky), but is forgotten as soon as it’s heard. The band and Ray do their usual professional job, but why Glenn singled the number out for recording is a mystery.

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On the other hand, YES MY DARLING DAUGHTER is a knockout from start to finish. Jerry Gray’s kicky arrangement, Marion’s vocal and 16 supercharged bars by seldom-featured Al Klink combine to produce a winning record. Dinah Shore and the Andrews Sisters also got big sales from their discs.

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Another session a week later produced four neglected sides, familiar only to Miller completists and all BMI products. A STONE’S THROW FROM HEAVEN is a lovely melody unfortunately saddled with a clichéd lyric. Three unknowns composed it – Bob Ray, Jan Burton and Irving Green. Ray Eberle sings the song nicely and Bill Finegan wrapped it in a fine arrangement, but nothing came of it.

YOU ARE THE ONE is yet another dull, undistinguished ballad. It was a rare collaboration between John Scott Trotter, conductor of Bing Crosby’s Kraft Music Hall radio series and Carroll Carroll, head writer for the show. Likely Glenn’s friendship with Bing resulted in this recording.

Moe Purtill, Johnny Best, Jack Lathrop, Ernie Caceres

Moe Purtill, Johnny Best, Jack Lathrop, Ernie Caceres

Miller had been using guitarist Jack Lathrop as an occasional vocalist. Now he gave him a tryout as a composer, recording and publishing two of his songs. Both tunes got a fair amount of airplay, but they went nowhere. Oddly, neither record was issued at the time, a very rare occurrence for Glenn’s output.   If RCA had not been desperate for new product during the 1942-44 recording ban, they might have languished in the vaults forever.

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HELPLESS is a sweet little tune, well sung by Ray and the record is a forgotten treat. LONG TIME NO SEE, BABY had definite possibilities, a jaunty, hip number with Marion at her best and Tex grooving on sax. The record’s delayed release did it no favors. gm long time

LONG TIME was issued in 1943 on Victor with HERE WE GO AGAIN, a product of the last Miller dates, as the flip side. HELPLESS was paired in early 1944 with a timely reissue of the 1942 WHEN JOHNNY COMES MARCHING HOME and has the distinction of being the last “new” Glenn Miller civilian band recording to be issued on Victor 78s.

Marion Hutton

Marion Hutton

For some reason, Glenn had lately been featuring Marion Hutton less frequently on records and broadcasts. On the Chesterfield airings, Marion and Ray would get one number apiece, but at the Café Rouge, she’d usually get just one vocal per half-hour program, while Ray would sing three. Her lone vocal on the November 22nd session would be her last with Miller for a long time.

Meanwhile, the trumpet section, having been in a state of flux since Clyde Hurley left in May, finally settled into a personnel configuration that would remain intact for long time.  The rest of the band was firmly set, so now Glenn had the musicians he wanted, most of whom would stay until the band broke up.

Now he needed more popular records. Glenn’s hit-making ability seemed to be on the blink as 1940 wound to its conclusion, but the next session would be a step in the right direction.

A Million Dreams Ago

Mickey McMickle, Charles Frankhauser, Zeke Zarchy, John Best (tp); Glenn Miller, Paul Tanner, Jimmy Priddy, Frank D’Annolfo (tb); Hal McIntyre, Wilbur Schwartz, Ernie Caceres, Tex Beneke, Al Klink (reeds) Chummy MacGregor (p); Jack Lathrop (g); Rollie Bundock (b); Maurice Purtill (d)’ Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton (vcl); Jerry Gray, Bill Finegan, (arr).

RCA Victor Studios, Chicago, IL – June 13, 1940, 1:00-5:25 PM

053130-1      When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano

(RE vcl, BF arr)          Bluebird 10776

053131-1      A Million Dreams Ago ((RE vcl, BF arr)       Bluebird 10768

053132-1      Blueberry Hill (RE vcl, BF arr)                      Bluebird 10768

053133-1      A Cabana In Havana (MH vcl, BF arr)         Bluebird 10776

053134-1      Be Happy (MH vcl, BF arr)                             Bluebird 10796

053135-1      Angel Child (RE vcl, BF arr)                           Bluebird 10796

053135-2      Angel Child (RE vcl, BF arr)                          first issued on LP

 

"Glenn Miller Orchestra" Brass

On the road since the April 28th recording date, Glenn and the band now headed further west than they had ever been. After another week in the DC area, they turned the band bus up and down the East Coast on the spring college prom circuit, then south to North Carolina, up north to Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, arriving in Chicago on June 11.  A studio session came two days later.

Glenn hadn’t recorded in Chicago’s Victor facilities since his Ben Pollack sideman days in 1928. One can wonder how he felt returning there as a top bandleader. It is too bad that the song selection for this date wasn’t better – three of the six numbers were not truly worthy of the hottest band in the land.

Personnel-wise, the main change was the loss of hot trumpeter Clyde Hurley, who left in early June. Hurley had not been particularly inspired by the band and soon was playing with Tommy Dorsey. Charlie Frankhauser replaced him and hung around for a while. Johnny Best took on most of the jazz solos.

Oddly, two of the songs on this date were revived successfully in the early rock ‘n roll years of 1956-57 – WHEN THE SWALLOWS COME BACK TO CAPISTRANO by Pat Boone and BLUEBERRY HILL by Fats Domino. Both had connections to Louis Armstrong. The composer of SWALLOWS, Leon Rene, has also written Louis’ theme song, WHEN Its SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH and Satchmo had recorded BLUEBERRY HILL in 1949. His slow, bluesy interpretation likely influenced Fats Domino to similarly revive it.

gm swallowsGetting back to Miller, WHEN THE SWALLOWS COME BACK TO CAPISTRANO is handled in typical Miller fashion. Ray Eberle sounds OK, if a bit less relaxed than on the previous session. A pleasant, though not particularly memorable rendition. The tune’s background is actually more interesting than the song itself, memorializing the yearly springtime return of the swallow flocks to the Mission San Juan Capistrano in California.

gm blueberryhBLUEBERRY HILL was a top hit for Glenn, but truth to tell, is nothing special as a record.   Composer Vincent Rose had been a well-known bandleader-songwriter in the 1920s, turning out WHISPERING, AVALON and LINGER AWHILE early in the decade. Fifteen years later, he caught fire again with THE UMBRELLA MAN and now, BLUEBERRY HILL.

gm millilonThough he was reputed to be slower at turning out arrangements than Jerry Gray, Bill Finegan penned all the charts on this date, for the first and only time. A MILLION DREAMS AGO originated in the Dick Jurgens band, as had the earlier hit, CARELESS. It was composed by the same trio – bandleader Jurgens, singer Eddy Howard and lyricist Lew Quadling and proved to be nearly as popular.

gm milliomAfter a lovely reed intro, Beneke plays the first chorus in a most mellow fashion. With above-average lyrics to work with, Ray turns out a fine vocal. Marion Hutton isn’t so lucky with her two songs, however. In interviews, she later complained that Ray got the good numbers and she was stuck with the “crap songs.” Two cases in point – A CABANA IN HAVANA and BE HAPPY.

In a Latin-swing vein, CABANA is an attempt to cash in on earlier hits, SAY SI-SI and especially, Johnny Mercer’s witty WEEK-END OF A PRIVATE SECRETARY (which Marion had sung on radio earlier in the year).  Unusual in that era, the composers, Mabel Wayne and Tot Seymour were women. Wayne specialized in Latin-tinged songs like IT HAPPENED IN MONTEREY, IN A LITTLE SPANISH TOWN and RAMONA; lyricist Seymour was more eclectic, penning the words to swing tunes CROSS PATCH and NO OTHER ONE.

The words to A CABANA IN HAVANA are just wordy, not witty. Marion has a hard time getting them all out at a fast tempo. The only part of the disc that pleases is the section after the vocal, where Finegan’s writing and Beneke’s sax take some pleasant liberties.

As mentioned earlier, BE HAPPY is another mindless ditty, written by the unlikely trio of songwriter Henry Nemo, bandleader Louis Prima and Harlem arranger Edgar Battle. After the opening vocal, there is a nice passage for the trombones and a fine Beneke solo, but then Marion comes back to chirp another inane chorus. Oh, well – at least the whole record is only a fraction over two minutes in length!

gmangelchildLastly, the “crap song” virus infects Ray Eberle, who is saddled with ANGEL CHILD, a tired-sounding number that might have been fresh in 1922. Not surprisingly, that’s when it was written by vaudevillians Georgie Price, Benny Davis and Abner Silver. Why this vintage non-hit was revived here is anyone’s guess. Maybe Glenn, who was getting into music publishing, had a hand in its reappearance?

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After the session ended, once again the band went back on tour through the Midwest. A two-week July engagement at the Panther Room of Chicago’s Hotel Sherman was the only respite from a constant schedule of one-nighters. Recording sessions took a back seat, until the second week of August.

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Fools Rush In

RCA Victor studios, New York – March 30, 1940, 1:00-5:00 PM

048482-1      Boog-It (MH vcl, JG arr)        Bluebird 10689

048483-1      Yours Is My Heart Alone (BF arr)   Bluebird 10728

048484-1      I’m Stepping Out With a Memory Tonight (RE vcl) Bluebird 10717

048485-1      Alice Blue Gown         Bluebird 10701

048486-1      Wonderful One (JG arr)       Bluebird 10701

048487-1      Devil May Care (RE vcl)       Bluebird 10717

 

RCA Victor studios, New York – March 31, 1940, 2:00-6:30 PM

048488-1      April Played the Fiddle (RE vcl, BF arr)      Bluebird 10694

048489-1      Fools Rush In (RE vcl)          Bluebird 10728

048490-1      I Haven’t Time To Be a Millionaire (TB vcl, JG arr) Bluebird 10604

048490-2      I Haven’t Time To Be a Millionaire (TB vcl, JG arr) first issued on LP

048491-1      Slow Freight (BF arr)            Bluebird 10740

After the February 24th RCA session, five weeks would pass before the Glenn Miller band returned to the studio.  They weren’t traveling; New York was their home base, as they were in the midst of a three-month residency at the Hotel Pennsylvania. Non-stop work kept them too busy for much else.  Two nightly evening sessions at the Cafe Rouge, three Chesterfield shows a week plus rehearsals and an additional two-week killer gig at the Paramount Theater (36 stage shows!) had the band panting for relief.

The strain finally got to Glenn, who collapsed from exhaustion and the flu on February 27th, the day before the Paramount opening.  He was hospitalized for over a week, returning to the bandstand on March 6th.  During his absence, friends Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Charlie Barnet and Dick Stabile led the band at the Paramount.  Charile Spivak and Claude Thornhill brought their bands to fill in for Glenn at the Pennsylvania while the band was doing their Chesterfield radio programs.

The Andrews Sisters join Glenn on the Chesterfield show, early 1940.

The Andrews Sisters join Glenn on the Chesterfield show, early 1940.

The Andrews Sisters, costars of the Chesterfield show, also appeared with the band at the Paramount. Cab drivers likely made a bundle, constantly ferrying the orchestra all over the city.  Once he returned to lead his band, Glenn thanked all the friends who helped him out in a special appearance on the Paramount stage.

Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Dick Stabile and Charlie Barnet join Glenn on the Paramount stage.

Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Dick Stabile and Charlie Barnet join Glenn on the Paramount stage.

The Sisters finished their 13-week contract for the radio program on March 21 and weren’t renewed. The sponsors decided that Miller could carry the show by himself; also, Glenn was scheduled to take the band on the road in April and the gals were going on their own road trip to Hollywood.  Coordinating the two schedules to include three live joint programs a week was an impossibility.

The wildly successful (and profitable) Paramount engagement concluded on March 12 and the Cafe Rouge-Hotel Pennsylvania residency would end on April 4. Health restored, Glenn was ready to take the band back into the studio for two sessions to get some new tunes on wax for the fans.  Ten numbers on two consecutive days were completed – six good popular songs and four instrumentals.

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Once again, Glenn used Marion Hutton sparingly, assigning her just a single vocal.  BOOG-IT originated in the Cab Calloway band, written by Buck Ram, who had also composed UTT DA ZAY and CHOP CHOP CHARLIE CHAN for Calloway. Though Ram was Jewish, he specialized in “hep” novelties for black artists like the Ink Spots, Ella Fitzgerald and later, the Platters. Lyricist Jack Palmer also regularly wrote for the Calloway and Jimmie Lunceford bands, penning THE JUMPIN’ JIVE and HI-HO TRAILUS BOOT WHIP.  The new dance described in the lyrics consisted of gesturing with your hands “like shinin’ a window, but you ain’t got no window, so you just picture a window and BOOG-IT!”  Miss Hutton likely danced her tuchus off while performing the number in person!  On record, the band adds vocal punctuations and handclaps, along with swinging solos by Hal McIntyre on alto and fat-toned trumpeter Clyde Hurley.

Marion steps away from the microphone for a gorgeous Bill Finegan instrumental arrangement of YOURS IS MY HEART ALONE, the most popular melody from Land of Smiles, a Viennese operetta by Franz Lehar, composer of The Merry Widow.  Published in 1929, it was introduced by tenor Richard Tauber who made the first recording in German.  Several British singers and bands went on to popularize the song in a rather stiff English translation by veteran lyricist Harry B. Smith.  In a revised form, it was republished and recorded in 1940 by Glen Gray & Kenny Sargent, Tommy Dorsey & Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman & Helen Forrest and Glenn, who did it strictly instrumental.  Taken at a brisk tempo, the reeds sing out in the first chorus, muted brass in the second, capped by a liquid tenor sax passage by Tex Beneke.  The mutes come off for the last chorus, as filigrees by Finegan wrap around the melody.  A lovely, underrated recording!

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Ray Eberle shows up for I’M STEPPING OUT WITH A MEMORY TONIGHT, by Herb Magidson and Allie Wrubel, an uncelebrated team who nevertheless wrote a pile of hits – GONE WITH THE WIND, MUSIC MAESTRO PLEASE, I’LL BUY THAT DREAM, THE MASQUERADE IS OVER and others.  The Miller Men give it a pleasant performance all around, with an efficient Eberle vocal and a distinctive Beneke solo.

Back to instrumental territory, for two lovely waltzes, ALICE BLUE GOWN and WONDERFUL ONE.   A musty favorite from the 1919 Broadway score of Irene, ALICE BLUE GOWN was built around a topical reference to the color Alice Blue, an azure fabric tint favored by Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of former President Teddy Roosevelt.  Long favored as a fashion trendsetter, Ms. Longworth popularized the hue for female attire.  The Harry Tierney musical about a poor Irish shopgirl who breaks into high society was a massive hit, as was the song.

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RKO remade the story in 1940, with British stage star Anna Neagle as Irene, including a lavish Technicolor sequence that showed off the famous gown in all its glory.  Though a number of hot renditions had been done by Red Nichols (including Glenn in the personnel) and Ben Pollack, the Miller 78 plugged the new film and the song’s original waltz tempo.  Bill Finegan’s richly detailed arrangement shifts the melody from section to section and then to Beneke’s plush saxophone.

WONDERFUL ONE originated in the 1922 Paul Whiteman band, then creating its first sensation of the nascent Jazz Age.  Crafted by Whiteman and arranger Ferde Grofe, the beautiful melody was as far from jazz as you could get, but still became an instant hit.  Jerry Gray treats the number simply and effectively, with softly muted brass and reeds. The coda is especially lovely.

We return to the present for the last tune of the day, DEVIL MAY CARE, written by familiar Miller contributors Johnny Burke and Harry Warren. It’s a quality pop song, which sounds like it might have been arranged by Glenn. Ray Eberle sings in a comfortable range for a change and the tempo in slow enough to allow him to give some meaning to the words. There is a very pleasant trombone choir in the final chorus before the full band finishes it off.

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Glenn and the boys were back in the studio the very next day with more new songs, including two from Bing Crosby’s latest film, If I Had My Way. Though some of the movie’s music looked back to the Gay 90’s, these tunes by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Monaco were right up to date.  APRIL PLAYED THE FIDDLE is a very endearing number, sung in rather lackluster fashion by Bing, but handled much more cheerfully by Glenn and Ray.

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Bing sounds half-asleep singing I HAVEN’T TIME TO BE A MILLIONAIRE in the film; Tex Beneke doesn’t bring much more connection to his rendition, sounding as if he’s reading the lyrics for the first time, which could very well have been the case!  Despite this, the band and altoist Ernie Caceres deliver the tune in a jaunty fashion.

Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom next deliver a classic standard, FOOLS RUSH IN, a major hit from day one.  Glenn’s recording is iconic, with Eberle and the band combining for a straightforward, yet totally memorable rendition.  The Tommy Dorsey-Frank Sinatra version was nearly as big a hit as Glenn’s. Incidentally, Tommy was still dogging Glenn’s heels.  Of the ten tunes on these March Miller sessions, Dorsey had competing records out of six of them.

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Our BOOG-IT friend Buck Ram also composed SLOW FREIGHT, first recorded by Benny Carter’s orchestra in January 1940. Glenn quickly picked up on it, hoping for another hit in the TUXEDO JUNCTION vein. Even the title was reminiscent of the earlier number.  Though the record went nowhere, it’s a more interesting and varied composition than JUNCTION.  To maximize the similarity, Glenn again had Mickey McMickle playing it straight on muted trumpet, in conversation with the groovier Clyde Hurley, who uses a different-sounding mute for his horn.

No rest for the weary – with the New York gigs completed, the road beckoned for the Glenn Miller band. Another month of travel would pass before RCA Victor welcomed them back – and they wouldn’t be traveling by SLOW FREIGHT!

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Wish Upon a Star

Legh Knowles, Clyde Hurley, Mickey McMickle, John 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); Rollie Bundock (b); Maurice Purtill (d); Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton (vcl); Bill Finegan, Jerry Gray (arr).

RCA Victor Studios, New York – January 6, 1940, 2:00-5:30 PM

046082-1      The Gaucho Serenade (RE vcl, JG arr)        Bluebird 10570

046083-1      The Sky Fell Down (RE vcl, BF arr)                         Bluebird 10580

046084-1      When You Wish Upon a Star (RE vcl)        Bluebird 10570

RCA Victor Studios, New York – January 15, 1940, 1:00-4:30 PM

046431-1      Give a Little Whistle (MH vcl)          Bluebird 10580

046432-1      Missouri Waltz           Bluebird 10587

046433-1      Beautiful Ohio (JG arr)         Bluebird 10587

046434-1      What’s the Matter With Me? (MH vcl)       Bluebird 10657

gmhotelpennfair1940 arrived with a bang for Glenn and the band. Their new radio program for Chesterfield was getting under way and a lengthy engagement at New York’s prestigious Café Rouge (in midtown’s Pennsylvania Hotel) began on January 4th.

gmhotelpennadNow the band could stay put in one city for several months, rehearsing, performing, recording and broadcasting. The first recording session of the year came less than a week after New Year’s Day.

gmgauchoadFor some reason, Glenn’s very citified orchestra was assigned to record a hefty slice of Western and cowboy music, beginning with THE GAUCHO SERENADE. He would eventually record enough to fill an album, though RCA never saw fit to compile one. It’s also Jerry Gray’s first recorded arrangement for the band, though airchecks exist of several earlier ones from late 1939.

gmgauchoserenadeTHE GAUCHO SERENADE was the title song of singing cowboy Gene Autry’s latest film, stuffed as usual with tunes by various composers. James Cavanaugh, John Redmond and Nat Simon wrote it; they each had a long series of hits behind them, including POINCIANA, I LIKE MOUNTAIN MUSIC, MISSISSIPPI MUD and I LET A SONG GO OUT OF MY HEART. It’s a merry little ditty, with Ray Eberle serving as an unlikely South American cowboy.

Bill Finegan surfaces as the arranger for THE SKY FELL DOWN, sung with great assurance by Ray. It’s a simple, effective chart with a sweet solo for Glenn in the last chorus. The distinguished team of Louis Alter (MANHATTAN SERENADE, YOU TURNED THE TABLES ON ME and DOLORES) and Edward Heyman (BODY AND SOUL, OUT OF NOWHERE, I COVER THE WATERFRONT) counted this as one of their big hits.

gmskyfelldownThis song also had the distinction of being the first disc recorded by Frank Sinatra with Tommy Dorsey on the higher-priced Victor label. There would be many more songs recorded by both Eberle and Sinatra over the next three years. Eberle was the more popular vocalist in 1940, but that would soon change.

gmPinocchio-1940-postergmPinocchio_title_cardGlenn had previously recorded the 1939 Best Song Oscar winner, OVER THE RAINBOW and was lucky enough to be assigned the eventual 1940 award winner, WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR, from Pinocchio.  Composers Ned Washington and Leigh Harline were regular contributors to Disney films; eventually this song became the Disney “theme,” heard on TV and in the theme parks up to the present day.

gmpinnocihioThough the arrangement is nothing special, Ray’s pleasant vocal and the song’s inherent quality carries the day. In 1947, the disc was reissued as part of a Victor 78 album of Glenn’s “star” songs, titled Starlight Serenades.

gmstar    gmwishstarNine days later, as the first tune on the next record date, another Pinocchio melody was given a spritely treatment. Jiminy Cricket’s GIVE A LITTLE WHISTLE is warbled by Marion, a bit off-key, but sweetly sincere. Chummy MacGregor gets a rare boogie-woogie solo, and Tex is his usual dependably swinging self. Oddly, Bluebird didn’t release the two PINOCCHIO songs back-to-back, but on separate discs.

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For a big change of pace, Glenn next recorded two waltzes. Every swing band had a few waltzes in their book to please older or more traditional dancers, but rarely got the chance to record them. That was the territory of the sweet bands. Wanting to be recognized as a well-rounded orchestra, Glenn apparently pushed Victor to let him record a few numbers in ¾ time; certainly music publishers weren’t promoting these oldies!

gmmissouritMISSOURI WALTZ, composed in 1914 by John Cameron Eppel, eventually became Missouri’s state song.   The arrangement, likely by Glenn, is simple and effective, with several tenor sax incursions by Beneke.

gmbeauohiooOn the flip side, BEAUTIFUL OHIO, not surprisingly, was the state song of Ohio. Ballard MacDonald and Robert King wrote it in 1918 as a standard love song. A later lyric revision made the song more Ohio-specific. Jerry Gray penned Glenn’s wistful chart, featuring muted brass and brief solos by Tex and Chummy.

Back to swing for the last item on the session – WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH ME?, written by Sam M. Lewis, with lyrics by Terry Shand. Lewis’ name is completely unknown today, but his songs aren’t – IN A LITTLE SPANISH TOWN, I’M SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD (both previously recorded by Glenn), FOR ALL WE KNOW and STREET OF DREAMS, to name just four. Terry Shand was a singer who recorded prolifically in the 1930s as a band vocalist and under his own name. He also wrote the lyrics for such hits as I DOUBLE DARE YOU and DANCE WITH A DOLLY.

gmWhatsTheMatterWithMeAfter a bouncy opening, Marion chirps the lyrics in a slightly subdued manner. The record really sparks to life with Clyde Hurley’s torrid solo, happily echoed by Tex, leading to a rousing windup.

Having been out of the studio for nearly all of December, Glenn was finally back at RCA on a regular recording schedule and more big hits were about to arrive!

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Indian Summer

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.

gmindiansummerWillie 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.

gmdubarrypgmOpening 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.

gmdubarryIt’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.

gmjohnsonragThe 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.

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.

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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!

In the Mood!

Same personnel, except Marion Hutton (vcl) returns, replacing Kay Starr.

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

038170-1      In The Mood         Bluebird 10416

038171-1      Wham (Re-Bop-Boom-Bam) (MH & the Band vcl, ED arr)      Bluebird 10399

038172-1      An Angel in a Furnished Room (RE vcl)     Bluebird 10383

038173-1      Twilight Interlude (RE vcl)       Bluebird 10388

038174-1      I Want To Be Happy (ED arr)          Bluebird 10416

038175-1      Farewell Blues (likely GM arr)         Bluebird 10495

 

gminthemoodglenn-miller-in-the-mood-rca-victor-2-78glenn-miller-and-his-orchestra-in-the-mood-rca-victorglenn-miller-in-the-mood-maybellene

What more can be said 75 years later about IN THE MOOD? It’s still amazing to contemplate that a rather tattered little riff that had been kicking around for a decade should become THE classic anthem of The Swing Era.

That riff passed from Wingy Manone (TAR PAPER STOMP) to Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman (both titled HOT AND ANXIOUS) to Mills Blue Rhythm Band (THERE’S RHYTHM IN HARLEM), Edgar Hayes, Artie Shaw (both now titled IN THE MOOD), back to Wingy Manone (JUMPY NERVES) and then finally to Glenn.

It’s still familiar today, having been repeatedly repackaged as a popular song (with a lamentable lyric by Andy Razaf), a rock-n-roll number, a disco disc, a movie soundtrack standard and a favorite of the Millennial Swing movement.

Arranger Joe Garland created the charts for the Mills band in 1935 and Edgar Hayes in 1938. The Hayes rendition is the first to offer the call-to-arms opening phrase that draws the listener’s attention. The first two choruses and backing band riffs of the familiar Miller 78 are nearly in place, but there are numerous extra themes and riffs cluttering up the second half. The famous 12-bar sax riff never reappears and the coda is unmemorable.

Garland sold the Hayes chart to Artie Shaw, who set the tempo so slowly that it took six minutes to perform. Artie played it this way on several location broadcasts in December 1938 and later claimed that the composition was too long to record. However, on his commercial radio show for Old Gold Cigarettes, he reverted to the original fast tempo, clocking in at two minutes and forty-five seconds, so his excuse sounds like latter-day sour grapes for having missed out on a big hit.

With Shaw uninterested in further exploitation, Garland then sold the chart again to Glenn. What did Miller bring to it? He solved the problem that had bedeviled every version since Manone’s 1930 TAR PAPER STOMP. With his arranger’s savvy, Miller chopped out all the additional themes, and then converted the first solo spot into a tenor sax chase between Tex Beneke and Al Klink, followed by a Clyde Hurley trumpet chorus.

Recognizing that the tune’s hook was that catchy sax riff, Glenn returned to it, repeated three times increasingly diminuendo and concluded with a lip-busting rising figure for the trumpet section, capped with a coda incorporating a final sax riff restatement. By making these alterations, Glenn struck pay dirt.

Interestingly, there is an aircheck from Glen Island of IN THE MOOD performed several days before the record session. With a running time of 4 minutes and forty seconds, Glenn still had some whittling to do to get it down to the familiar length of 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

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For the flip side of the original 78, Eddie Durham was tapped again for a jivey chart of I WANT TO BE HAPPY, the 1924 Vincent Youmans-Irving Caesar standard from the hit musical, No, No, Nanette. Glenn had written a martial-tempo jazz arrangement of the tune for Red Nichols back in 1930 and Benny Goodman and Chick Webb had done it more recently. It now became one of the best killer-dillers in the Miller discography. Hurley and Beneke solo in fine form followed by two choruses of increasingly agitated band riffs and a final shout out from Glenn and Moe Purtill before a neatly tied-up ending.

The hot stuff continues on WHAM (RE-BOP-BOOM-BAM), with Marion happily back in the songbird chair. It’s another Eddie Durham original, both composition and arrangement. Taken at a slower, groovier tempo, the vocal is followed by a chorus of pleasant riffing, then Tex, Glenn and Clyde solo. Hurley is especially inspired here.

Glenn & Marion rehearse

Glenn & Marion rehearse

Since Eddie Durham’s regular gig was with the great Jimmie Lunceford band, it’s not surprising that some of the Lunceford bounce seeps into the Miller rendition. Lunceford himself did not get around to recording WHAM until December and as one would expect, his version is looser and swingier than Glenn’s. It would take awhile longer for the Miller band to relax sufficiently to capture a taste of that uptown feel.

glenn-miller-wham-rebopboombam-his-masters-voice-78Ray Eberle comes up to bat twice, with one good tune and one that’s so-so. Bandleader Ted Fio Rito wrote the awkwardly titled AN ANGEL IN A FURNISHED ROOM, with lyrics by Al Dubin. Fio Rito had composed quality songs like I NEVER KNEW (I COULD LOVE ANYBODY) and THEN YOU’VE NEVER BEEN BLUE, but ANGEL is pretty uninspired, with a clichéd lyric.

Ray and Glenn do what they can with it, but make a better case for TWILIGHT INTERLUDE. Peter Tinturin was a fine, second-tier songwriter whose name never became well known, but he was the creator of FOOLIN’ MYSELF, BIG BOY BLUE and other songs recorded by Billie Holiday. Ella Fitzgerald and Mildred Bailey. Later, he crafted a batch of Western numbers for the post-war Tex Beneke band. Co-writer Al Jacobs would contribute I’VE GOT A HEARTFUL OF LOVE to the repertoire of Glenn’s AAF Band and Doris Day’s big hit, IF I GIVE MY HEART TO YOU.

gm twilightMiller starts TWILIGHT INTERLUDE with some smooth muted trombone and Ray plaintively delivers the vocal. The whole performance clicks nicely; for comparison, there is a Glen Island aircheck from the same evening, where Ray sounds quite strained and the band hits some clams.

Glenn managed to squeeze in six completed masters on this three-hour session, concluding with another flagwaver, FAREWELL BLUES. Though no arranger is credited on this ancient 1922 jazz standard, written by the members of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, it sounds like Glenn’s work, with his distinctive boo-wah brass figures. He also takes a rangy solo, along with usual suspects Beneke and Hurley. The last chorus has some wonderful arranged riffing, which likely sent the dancers into paroxysms of joy!

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It was not quite farewell yet to Westchester – there was one more record session to come while the band was comfortably situated at the Glen Island Casino and it would be a good one.

 

 

 

 

 

Glen Island Special

Kay Starr (vcl) replaces Marion Hutton

RCA Victor Studios, New York – July 26, 1939, 12:00-4:00 PM

038138-1      Starlit Hour (RE vcl, GM arr) Bluebird 10553

038139-1      Blue Orchids (RE vcl)             Bluebird 10372

038140-1      Glen Island Special (ED arr)             Bluebird 10388

038141-1      Love With a Capital “You” (KS vcl)   Bluebird 10383

038142-1      Baby Me (KS vcl, ED arr)        Bluebird 10372

038143-?      My Isle of Golden Dreams (BF arr)   first issued on LP

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By this time, the Glenn Miller band was operating like a glistening, well-oiled machine, so when it slipped a cog it was a big deal. On July 22nd, Marion Hutton collapsed in mid-performance on the bandstand of Glen Island Casino. Hospitalized and diagnosed with exhaustion, she spent a week recovering.  With a record date coming up, Glenn raced to find a substitute. He found her in tiny, 16-year-old Kay Starr, who had recently arrived in NY from Memphis and was already singing with Joe Venuti’s big band and guesting on the Bob Crosby Camel Caravan radio show.  Young Kay brought her own form of ebullience to the Miller band and was lucky enough to get two good songs to sing on her one record date.

KayStarr

Eddie Durham contributed the hot chart of BABY ME, slotting Kay in for a self-assured vocal on her first appearance before a recording mike.  Clyde Hurley delivers one of his by now-patented fiery trumpet solos and the band swings to a neat coda. Kay was already familiar with the song, having sung it on a July 24th Glen Island broadcast.  LOVE WITH A CAPITAL “YOU” is taken at a less hectic tempo, affording Kay a chance to emote a bit. This catchy Leo Robin-Ralph Rainger song was introduced by a blonde Martha Raye in the Paramount Joe E. Brown star vehicle, $1,000 a  Touchdown.

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On the ballad side, Ray Eberle also gets two fine songs – STARLIT HOUR, written by our old friend Mitchell Parish with Peter DeRose, comes encased in a simple, uncluttered Glenn Miller arrangement. Earlier in the year, Ray had sung the team’s DEEP PURPLE on the air from the Meadowbrook.  This is one of the first Miller ballad discs that really takes its time and gives Ray breathing space to deliver the lyric in a relaxed manner.

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Hoagy Carmichael’s BLUE ORCHIDS is performed slightly slower than the previous number. The lyric, apparently also by Hoagy, sits rather awkwardly on the rangy melody and though Eberle sounds OK, this attempt to create another STAR DUST comes off slightly wanting.

Eddie Durham scores with the swing original, GLEN ISLAND SPECIAL, a minor-key riff romp in his best Basie style.  There was a long history of swing instrumentals paying tribute to famous band venues, from Duke Ellington’s COTTON CLUB STOMP, to Count Basie’s ROSELAND SHUFFLE, Fats Waller’s PANTIN’ AT THE PANTHER ROOM and Glenn’s own PENNSYLVANIA 6-5000. As usual, Hurley and Beneke get the main solos, with Al Klink confined to an eight-bar release.  The topical title may have limited the SPECIAL’s life in the band’s book, as it was not played after January 1940, when Glenn had gone on to new places.

The final number on the session, MY ISLE OF GOLDEN DREAMS, was abandoned after an unsuccessful take, likely because the session had already run four hours. It was re-recorded successfully on August 18th. The rejected version surfaced decades later on LP and is similar to the issued 78, but the band hits a few clinkers and has trouble negotiating the tricky chart’s tempo changes.

No matter – the band and Marion Hutton would return to Victor in six days with a new instrumental that Glenn had high hopes for.