Interview: Heidi Glow on Bernie Glow


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Bernie Glow
Hollywood in the 1950s and '60s had its share of top pop studio trumpeters, including Conrad Gozzo, Uan Rasey, Shorty Rogers, Maynard Ferguson, Harry “Sweets" Edison, Don Fagerquist, Pete and Conte Candoli, Ray Linn, Manny Klein, Jimmy Zito, Shorty Sherock, Jack Sheldon and Joe Triscari, to name a bunch. New York had plenty of greats, too, including Ernie Royal, Al Porcino, Al Stewart, Dick Collins, Nick Travis, Jimmy Maxwell, Al Derisi, Billy Butterfield, Jimmy Maxwell, Clark Terry, Burt Collins, Doug Mettome, Joe Newman, Doc Severinsen, Marky Markowitz, Marvin Stamm, Randy Brecker and Jimmy Nottingham.

And then there was Bernie Glow. In the New York recording studios, Glow was the epitome of the rock-solid, first-chair trumpeter, effortlessly batting out the high notes in the section and setting the feel. While he wasn't a jazz soloist, he turns up on hundreds of recordings, starting with Artie Shaw and Woody Herman in the 1940s and early 1950s, Miles Davis's Gil Evans orchestral sessions in the late 1950s and a wide range of jazz-pop recordings in the 1960s and '70s.

When I interviewed Marvin Stamm on Glow in 2020, Marvin said, “Bernie played on many of the most significant New York jazz and pop studio recordings of that era. His beautiful round sound soars over the music of Gil Evans, Quincy Jones, Bob Brookmeyer, Oliver Nelson, Gary McFarland, Ralph Burns and many other great jazz writers and arrangers. He was loved and respected by many friends both inside and outside the world of music."

In another JazzWax interview, with trumpeter Al Stewart, he said, “Bernie was the best first-trumpet player of that generation. He was consistent, and he had a great sound and time. He never seemed to get tired. He could do three or four record dates in a day, and he'd be just as fresh at the end of the day as he was in the morning. He was a beautiful man, and a good friend."

For a post on the 40-year anniversary of Glow's passing (May 8, 1982), I reached out to Heidi Glow, one of Bernie Glow's three daughters, for an email interview. Key audio clips follow:

JazzWax: Where did your family live when you were growing up?

Heidi Glow: We lived in Queens, N.Y. from 1952 to 1960. Then we moved to Great Neck, on Long Island. There, we had a nice four-bedroom house on a third of an acre just a block from the Long Island Sound. I have an identical twin sister, Sari, and a younger sister, Cathy. Sari and I were born in 1952 and Cathy was born in 1955.

JW: Tell me about your mom and dad. What were they like growing up?

HG: My mom was a homemaker until she went to college at age 38 to become a teacher. She was a beautiful, soft spoken, nurturing woman. She did the cooking and household chores, and enjoyed entertaining and making the holidays at our home. My dad was quite modest. He had a great sense of humor and liked sports, especially the New York Giants football team. He also was a wine enthusiast and collector. We took a lot of family vacations. Every summer for many years, we went up to Massachusetts's Cape Cod for two weeks. We also vacationed in Florida and Washington, D.C.

JW: Where on Cape Cod?

HG: North Truro, where we’d stay at the Top Mast Motel. The room had a kitchenette and bar stools. I think it was a one-bedroom suite. We’d dig for mussels on the beach and Mom would boil them and then serve with Russian dressing. We also went to Howard Johnson’s for fried clams and saw Ben-Hur at a local drive-in movie theater when it came out in 1959.

JW: Did your dad practice up there?

HG: Yes, each day he went to the dunes near the motel around dusk, when the beach had cleared out. He’d practice scales and intervals. Sometimes I went with him.

JW: So early on, you knew your dad was a professional musician?

HG: Yes, I knew because he practiced every day at home. My dad worked primarily during the day recording ad jingles, playing on record sessions and on TV shows. As crazy as it may seem today for a musician, he worked mostly from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and was usually home for dinner by 6. Occasionally, he worked evenings for major events such as the televised Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day Telethon. He also played at Lyndon Johnson’s inauguration in 1965. The wives were invited, too.

JW: Did you tag along to those events?

HG: Eventually. In 1975, Sari and I went to the Grammys at New York’s Uris Theatre, where Dad played in the orchestra. In the audience, we sat near John Lennon, Stevie Wonder and Walt Frasier, to name a few. It was amazing.

JW: Who were you and your sister named for?

HG: Sari and I were named for our maternal grandmother Saina-Hinda. I was also named for the storybook character Heidi, which had been made into a 1937 movie starring Shirley Temple. Mom was a big fan.

JW: At home, where did your dad practice?

HG: He practiced either while walking through our large living room and dining area or in his bedroom. As far as I know, there were no complaints from neighbors. I never asked how he hit the high notes. I honestly wasn’t aware that it was unusual.

JW: What did you listen to as a teen?

HG: I grew up in the 1960’s, so I listened to everything, including Chubby Checker, Leslie Gore, Aretha Franklin, Sam and Dave, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, the Stones, the Doors, the Who, Cream, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Crosby, Stills & Nash. In elementary school, I played the violin. At home, we all took piano lessons with Blanche Godlis, wife of trombonist Al Godlis. I briefly sang in a local band in high school called The Rubber Band. I also was in a somewhat tame version of Hair at our community arts center.

JW: What did your dad listen to on the stereo?

HG: A lot of singers like Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra. He also would sit in the living room and blast Tchaikovsky. I appreciated the pop singers he played, but I definitely was into more contemporary music.

JW: When did you first realize your dad was a big deal?

HG: I knew my dad’s career was different and cooler than what other dads did for work. It was exciting for me when my dad recorded with artists I knew and liked. He recorded with the Lovin’ Spoonful and did some tracks for the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed album. He also played on Laura Nyro’s Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, which for me is a masterpiece.

JW: A lot of concerts, too, I’ll bet, yes?

HG: I spent a lot of my teen years at the Fillmore East seeing all the greats. On June 28, 1968, I went to the Soul Together concert at Madison Square Garden. It was a benefit for the Martin Luther King Memorial Fund. Artists there included Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Sam and Dave, the Rascals, Joe Tex and King Curtis and the Kingpins. My dad played in the band. It was thrilling, and I got some great pictures of Hendrix. This concert and the Grammys were probably the most memorable for me.

JW: Which famous musicians came over to the house when you were growing up?

HG: Not many. Most of my parents’ friends were studio, TV and theater musicians. We had a big New Year’s Eve party at our house each year when I was young. Two of my dad’s special friends who came to the house were bassist Milt Hinton and trumpeter Marvin Stamm.

JW: How would you describe your dad's gift?

HG: He had innate talent, strength and taste. He worked hard and I knew he was one of the best players on his instrument and a “first call" guy. He was consistently busy and successful enough to put four women through college and two through graduate school. He worked doing what he loved during a rich and special time in the music business. Studio work was plentiful, orchestras were still in vogue and there were incredibly talented musicians, composers, arrangers and conductors around then.

JW: Why didn’t your dad record albums as a leader?

HG: My father had no aspirations to lead a band or record an album for which he'd have to assemble the musicians and produce the music. His joy and comfort zone was being a powerful lead trumpet player and superb sight reader. In truth, he was probably too busy to do so.

JW: What are your favorite albums that include your dad in the trumpet section?

HG: I love Sketches of Spain, Tony Bennett at Carnegie Hall in 1962 and Tony's Christmas albums. I appreciated his playing with Aretha Franklin and on a hit record with the Stylistics. There really are so many. My favorite solo of his is on Ballad for Trumpet with the Richard Maltby Orchestra. It’s really a passionate performance.

JW: Were you encouraged to be a musician?

HG: Not at all. In high school, I wanted to go to U.C. Berkeley or the University of Michigan. They were the hotbeds of the youth culture at the time. But my parents would only let me go as far as the Mississippi River, so I went to Washington University in St. Louis where I studied sociology. I had a great time there and made some life-long friends. After college, I became interested in healthcare while working as a counselor with unwed pregnant girls at a Catholic agency in New York. I then attended Cornell Nursing School at New York Hospital and got my BSN in two years. Then I moved to San Francisco, where I lived for almost 13 years and worked as a registered nurse and studied jazz dance and ballet. I eventually became a Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist after getting my masters degree at U.C. San Francisco. I had a long and gratifying career as a nurse, nurse manager and clinical instructor. I have a fabulous daughter who became an ICU nurse and educator. She moved to Colorado six years ago and I followed her there in 2021. I'm really enjoying the great jazz scene in Denver, and the city is a beautiful place to live.

JW: Your dad died young, at age 56. What happened?

HG: In 1972, when I was in college, my dad was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia. Basically, it’s brought on by an overproduction of a protein in the blood causing the blood to become very viscous. His treatment was plasmapheresis, which is like dialysis for the blood. He did this monthly for 10 years. I do not believe the disorder was inherited. My dad continued to work during most of his illness, but slowed down a bit. His last job was in the pit of the musical 42nd Street from late 1980 until shortly before he passed in 1982.

JW: What do you remember most about your dad?

HG: In addition to being an extraordinary musician, my dad was a remarkable human being. He was extremely warm and well liked. His passing at such a young age was devastating. Even though I was an adult and living in California at the time, I felt a hole in my heart and in my life for a long time. I learned so much from him about music, integrity and kindness. Mostly, I always felt loved and supported. It is truly heartwarming to me that he continues to be remembered and appreciated.

JazzWax clips: Here's a rare credited Bernie Glow solo on a lovely Johnny Hartman single called The World Was Mine in 1955. Listen to how pretty his tone is all the way through, akin to cornetist Bobby Hackett and trumpeter Billy Butterfield...

Here's an Ernie Wilkins arrangment for Sarah Vaughan in 1955 of Dont' Be on the Outside. Glow and Ernie Royal are the only two trumpts (with an alto saxophone solo by Cannonball Adderley)...

Here's Glow on Benny Golson's The Touch, from Take a Number From 1 to 10 in 1961. Glow and Nick Travis are on trumpets...

Here's My Funny Valentine from Kai Winding and J.J. Johnson's album Israel in April 1968. You can hear Glow join the trombones at 3:15...

Here, from the same album, is Django. You can hear Glow join at 3:02...

Here's Glow in the trumpet section of Wes Montgomery's Road Song, from the the 1968 album of the same name...

Here, from the same album, is Where Have All the Flowers Gone. Listen to Glow's opener on trumpet...

Here's Glow and Marvin Stamm on Soulful Strut, from organist Walter Wanderley's Moondreams, arranged by Eumir Deodato in 1969...

And here's Glow's ripping high-note opener on the Stylistics disco gem I Can't Give You Anything (But My Love) in 1975...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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