This Is an Orchestra?
This month marks the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Glenn Miller whose dance band set new standards for popularity before his mysterious death aboard a plane crossing the English Channel in December 1944. Miller’s second band, which he formed in 1938, soon struck gold with a series of best-selling records and remained the country’s most popular ensemble for the next six years, even after Miller’s induction into the Army Specialist Corps in October 1942. By that time, he and the band had appeared in the films Sun Valley Serenade and Orchestra Wives, hosted their own radio show and strung together a remarkable series of chart-topping songs including “Tuxedo Junction,” “In the Mood,” “Moonlight Serenade,” “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” “Elmer’s Tune,” “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” “Serenade in Blue,” “Pennsylvania 6-5000” and others while making stars of band members Tex Beneke, Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton and the Modernaires. In less than a year, starting in 1944, the Glenn Miller Army Air Force band presented more than 800 performances in England and elsewhere including 500 radio broadcasts that were heard by millions and helped boost morale during the darkest days of World War II. It was while on a planning trip for the band’s six-week tour of Europe that Glenn’s plane was lost. While many theories have been advanced about what happened and how, neither the plane nor Miller’s body has ever been found, and what happened on that fateful trip remains shrouded in mystery.
August denotes the centenary of yet another big-band colossus, the inimitable Kid from Red Bank, William “Count” Basie. More about that later.
That’s it for now, big-band lovers. Until next time, keep swingin’!
New and Noteworthy
1. Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra, Two Seconds to Midnight (Sea Breeze)
2. Phil Kelly & the NW Prevailing Winds, Convergence Zone (Origin)
3. Mark Masters Jazz Ensemble, The Clifford Brown Project (Capri)
4. Rob McConnell / SWR Big Band, So Very Rob (faszination musik)
5. Summit Jazz Orchestra / Clark Terry, Clark (Edition Collage)
6. DVC Night Jazz Band, Featuring Toshiko Akiyoshi (DVC)
7. Dave Stevens Big Band, Sound Storm (Digital Visionary)
8. Mats Holmquist Big Band, A Tribute to Chick Corea (Caprice)
9. Jill Townsend Big Band, Tales from the Sea (Pagetown)
10. Jim Widner Big Band, Flying High . . . (Chase Music Group)
11. Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra, 27 East (Lasheda Records)
12. Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra, Playin’ the Book! (Columbus Music Hall)