Bandleader Ib Glindemann has been a fixture on the Danish music scene for almost half a century, having formed his first professional band in 1956 and served as conductor (1964–68) of the Danish Radio New Dance Orchestra which eventually became the Danish Radio Big Band (and now the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra). After traveling the world and writing music for film, plays and ballet for the next twenty–six years, Glindemann returned to his big–band roots in 1994 and formed his present ensemble, which is more a dance band than Jazz orchestra, modeled along the lines of U.S. bands fronted by Ray Anthony, Les Brown, the Elgart brothers and, earlier, Glenn Miller, the Dorsey brothers, Harry James, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman, among others. Glindemann’s danceable Swing Era–style music has struck a positive chord among the Danes, and, we’re told by a member of the band, Swing Shoes,
the most recent of these three CDs by the orchestra, sold a remarkable 17,000 copies in two months. One of the reasons for this is that Glindemann has never compromised his rigorous musical standards and the orchestra sounds, in every circumstance, tight and under control. Five of the songs on Swing Shoes
are taken from the Glenn Miller book, three are associated with the Count Basie band, others with Shaw, James and even Al Jolson (“April Showers”). “Swing Shoes,” a Glindemann original, sounds as though it could have been written by Al Cohn or perhaps Bill Holman during his early Kenton years. There are four vocals by Irina Strange whose quavering little–girl voice is underlined by a prominent Russian accent (well, she is
Russian, after all). While Glindemann does use soloists they are more ancillary than fundamental, as the emphasis throughout is on the ensemble, as it was during the heyday of the orchestra’s role models. Swing Shoes
is an admirable (but rather brief) album of tasteful dance–band music.
A String of Pearls, recorded in 1997, offers more of the same but this time with a phalanx of guest artists including ten unescorted singers, one duo (Dicte and Claus Hempler) and a trio (Me, She & Her). Following Sy Oliver’s “Opus One” (with clarinetist Tom Stansell subbing for Benny Goodman), the trio (Pernille Dan, Susanne Marcussen, Trille Paisgaard) takes the first swing with an Andrews Sisters–style reading of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” As for the others, we don’t wish to besmirch anyone, but they prove for the most part that Denmark must be home to a large number of rather indifferent singers who’d like to try their luck with a band. Irina Strange is back (lending a Russian twist to Bobby Troup’s “Route 66” while showing her impressive vocal range). Others who fare reasonably well are Ulla Henningsen (“My Funny Valentine”), Jörgen Klubien (“Ac–cent–tchu–ate the Positive”) and Ivan Pedersen (“All the Things You Are”). With so many singers on the agenda there’s room for only seven instrumentals, the best of which is Glindemann’s “Flemming’s on the Bone,” a feature for wah–wah trombonist Flemming Sjølund whose melody follows closely Ellington’s “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me.” The orchestra acquits itself well on the others including Ray Wetzel’s “Intermission Riff,” Bill Finnegan’s “Tail End Charlie,“ Ray Heindorf’s “Melancholy Rhapsody” and Ed Finckle’s “It’s Up to You.” Some nice dance music but far too many singers to suit our taste.
Ping–Pong, recorded in 1995 (and presumably the orchestra’s first album following Glindemann’s return to the big–band fold), is strictly instrumental save for run–of–the–mill vocals by Bent Warburg on “Learning the Blues” and “Stars Fell on Alabama.” Once again, this is largely vintage dance music, performed, as Bent Henius writes in the liner notes, with “swing, drive and precision.” Glindemann contributed four original compositions this time around to complement well–known numbers by the likes of Jerry Gray, Stan Kenton, Lionel Hampton / Benny Goodman, Horace Silver, Duke Ellington, Kurt Weill and Gordon Jenkins, and not–quite–so–familiar works by Ray Coniff (“Jumpin’ on the Merry–Go–Round”) and Billy May (“Ping–Pong”). Glindemann’s tunes (“Manhattan Strut,” “Siesta Serenade,” “Afternoon Amble,” “Billy’s in Town”) compare quite favorably with the others; “Serenade” and “Amble” embody the sort of hummable melodies that could have taken them to the top of the popularity charts if recorded in the Miller–Dorsey era while “Billy” echoes the style of one who is perhaps its namesake, the aforementioned Billy May. Kenton, one of Glindemann’s early influences, is represented by “Eager Beaver,” Hampton / Goodman by “Flying Home,” Jenkins by the mournful “Goodbye,” Ellington by “Satin Doll,” Weill by one of his loveliest songs, “Speak Low.” It’s good to know that swing is alive and well in Denmark, and that it is being performed by an orchestra as handsomely well–decorated as Glindemann’s.
Contact:Mega Records, www.mega–records.dk; e–mail [email protected]–records.dk