Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Happy Birthday Glenn Miller!
In honor of Glenn Miller's birthday today (b. 1904) and mine (b. 1975, LOL) I thought I'd share with you my favorite Glenn Miller tunes. If you've never heard some of them before, they're well worth the download- follow the links to the iTunes file.
Glenn Miller was, by all accounts, a decent but unspectacular trombonist (I can sympathize). After playing for years as a sideman alongside some of jazz's greatest talents he formed his own orchestra in 1937 but was unsuccessful until 1938-39 when he developed his famous "Miller sound" by adding a lead clarinet to the more traditional saxophone section of his big band. By the early 1940s, Miller's band was the hottest in the country with a string of hits including "Tuxedo Junction", "In the Mood" and "Moonlight Serenade". He and his band were featured in the films Sun Valley Serenade (1941) and Orchestra Wives (1942).
When WWII broke out, Miller longed to be of service to his country. But at the time the armed forces employed only more formal concert bands; there was no place for modern swing music. From late 1942 until 1944, he led a relatively undistinguished group of musicians in the traditional marching band style. Finally, he was able to persuade the Army Air Force brass to permit him to form a swing band and a full string orchestra to boost morale of the soldiers abroad and the homefront. He made hundreds of recordings in England, many of which were also recorded in German and broadcast across the continent to listeners behind enemy lines.
In late 1944, after the Allies had stormed into France, Miller wanted to take his band directly to the troops in Paris. In preparation for the move, he boarded a single engine transport to fly across the English Channel. On December 15th, 1944, in the fog over the Channel, his plane disappeared and no trace of the aircraft or its passengers has ever been found. Major Glenn Miller is still officially listed as "missing in action".
As I've mentioned in previous posts, Glenn Miller's music was probably my jumping off point into vintage culture. I've been listening to it since I was 13, and boy, that makes me feel real old today when I say that has been 23 years! Most of these are on the "hot" side, and totally disprove the notion that Glenn Miller was strictly a "sweet" band.
1) "Peggy the Pin-up Girl" (also in honor of yesterday's passing of Jane Russell)
2) "American Patrol"
3) "Caribbean Clipper"
4) "Mission to Moscow"
5) "Song of the Volga Boatmen"
6) "Johnson Rag"
7) "Serenade in Blue"
8) "Jeep Jockey Jump"
9) "Moonlight Cocktail"
10) "Stealin' Apples"
I could probably keep going forever. What are your favorites?