The big bands are back
in a new and exciting way!
compiled by Music Librarian CHRISTOPHER POPA
image courtesy of Rollofone Records


    Who could have imagined that at the start of 2016, more than 70 years after legendary bandleader Glenn Miller’s death, that it would be the Miller sound that is the state-of-the-art, in a number of ways.
    First, a small company named Rollofone, located in Bay City, Texas, is working on a set of five records with 10 of Miller’s popular recordings (Over the Rainbow, American Patrol, Yours Is My Heart Alone, Moonlight Serenade, Tuxedo Junction, Pennsylvania 6-5000, Imagination, To You, Fools Rush In, and In the Mood).  
    As Miller collectors know, those 1939-42 studio performances were reissued numerous times before and most of them are on currently-available CDs. In fact, all of them can be purchased now as MP3 files from
    But what makes Rollofone’s project quite special is that they received a copy of the original Bluebird and Victor metal masters held by Sony Music Entertainment, which were transferred to digital DSD, a modern high-resolution format.  
    Then, later in 2016, Rollofone will release the final product as a limited-edition collection of five newly-pressed 78 rpm records, which means for the first occasion in about 50 years, there will be “new” Glenn Miller 78s!  
    Last month, Billboard magazine reported that, while streaming was considered the death knell of the CD and downloading, new research suggests that services such as Spotify and Apple Music can actually drive sales – at least for dedicated music fans like big band aficionados can be.   Similarly, the industry-wide increase in vinyl sales continues, with the stats in the U.S. at their highest in 25 years.   So this may be a good opportunity to interest young people in the sounds of swing in a unique way.
   Michaela Merz of Rollofone told me, "Just for your information, Glenn Miller will be our 
first project to .. well .. test the water temperature.  We're planning to continue to release
more big band music on 78rpms because, well, first we like the music and second - the music deserves it."
   “In the meantime,” according to Rollofone’s Facebook page, “we’re negotiating with the representatives for the Glenn Miller Family to get access to more information and images for the booklet that will be in the record set.”


    Another way that the Miller sound is still state-of-the-art is the engaged U.S. schedule of The Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by vocalist Nick Hilscher, taking them into the deep south. Their 2016 itinerary begins on the 7th at Sam’s Town Casino & Hotel Shreveport in Shreveport, LA. Other dates are: Jan 9, Spivey Hall, Morrow, GA; Jan 11, Burnt Store Presbyterian Church, Punta Gorda, FL; Jan 12, Laurel Manor Recreation Center, The Villages, FL; Jan 13, Kings Point Borini Theatre, Sun City Center, FL; Jan 15, private; Jan 17, Neel Performing Arts Center, Bradenton, FL; Jan 18, Lake Mary High School, Lake Mary, FL; Jan 20, private; Jan 21, Falany Performing Arts Center, Waleska, GA; Jan 22, Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center, Evans, GA; Jan 23, Younts Center, Fountain Inn, SC; Jan 24, Newberry Opera House, Newberry, SC; Jan 26, Wilson Center for the Arts, Jacksonville, FL; Jan 27, Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center, Ormond Beach, FL; Jan 28, Eissey Campus Theatre, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; Jan 30, Parker Playhouse, Fort Lauderdale, FL.


    I’m disappointed to learn that the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s excellent and pretty female vocalist, Natalie Angst, has now left the group. I thought she was easily the best “girl singer” that the band has had since Lorrie Peters was hired by Ray McKinley.
    As Natalie wrote on Facebook last month, “Joining this band was the best decision of my life. I can’t believe how much I’ve grown and learned as a completely independent young girl on the road with 18 dudes for 2 years. There have been some rough times (living out of hotels, missing home, walking to urgent cares and hospitals, trekking through inches of snow and j-walking to get a cup of noodles from the gas station for dinner) but all these experiences truly showed me how important it is to keep a positive attitude and pay close attention to all the beautiful and amazing things in life. I’ve had an absolute blast touring with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and I would not have done anything differently.”
    We can look forward to The Glenn Miller Orchestra’s newest recording, “Live! and In Stereo: Featuring the Greatest Hits,” a performance taped in 2014 which, when released, will mark Natalie’s formal recording debut. Besides a dozen familiar Miller standards like American Patrol and Kalamazoo, the CD reportedly is to include renditions of such lesser-heard songs as Glen Island Special, That’s Sabotage, and Fools Rush In.
    Congratulations on all your achievements, Natalie, and best of luck for your future! 
Meanwhile, best regards to Nick and all the boys in the band.


    As I reported in my October 2015 “Big Band News,” the five-year contract between Swedish trombonist Jan Slottenas and Glenn Miller Productions authorizing him to operate an "official" Glenn Miller Orchestra in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and France expired last June 30th.   That left only three licensed Miller bands, the one in the U.S. led by Nick Hilscher, the one in the United Kingdom led by Ray McVay, and the other in Europe directed by pianist Wal Salden (or four, if you count the occasional performances by trombonist Rick Gerber on the West Coast, in Mexico, and Australia).   
     I am happy to now learn that Slottenas’ activities at the helm of a Glenn Miller Orchestra will continue into 2016.
    Slottenas will play on a dance cruise aboard the M/S Viking Cinderella on the 17th and 18th of this month. And other performances are already in place for the future, with a complete listing available on the band’s website,
    To my mind, that would be a third way that the Miller sound is still state-of-the-art: the fact that, after all these years, his musical arrangements are still heard not only in the U.S. but around the world!


Count Basie Orchestra directed by Scotty Barnhart. Jan 23, Symphony Center,
  Chicago (“Battle Royale” with The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra). 
Syd Lawrence Orchestra directed by Chris Dean. Jan 23, Mersea Island, Essex,
  England; Jan 27, Solihull Arts Complex, Solihull, England; Jan 29, The Stables,
  Wavendon, England; Jan 31, Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage, England.
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Ray McVay. Jan 2, Symphony Hall, Birmingham,
  England; Jan 3, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Egland; Jan 10, Philharmonic Hall,
  Liverpool, England; Jan 20, Epsom Playhouse, Epsom, England.


Kitty Kallen, 94, d.Jan 7, 2016.  Vocalist with Teagarden '39-'40; Sherwood '42; J
   Dorsey '43; James '44-'45 / '52; Shaw '46.


Bucky Pizzarelli, guitarist, b.Jan. 9, 1926. With Monroe '43 / '46-'52; Goodman '67 / '69
  Reader's Digest / '70 / '71 / '72 / '73 / '74 / '75 / '77 / '79 / '80 / '81 / '85.
Ray Anthony, trumpeter, b. Jan. 20, 1922. With A Donahue '40; Miller '40-'41; J Dorsey
  '42. Own band '46-’12? (“90th Birthday Celebration”) .
Benny Golson, tenor saxophonist, b. Jan. 25, 1929. With Gillespie '56-'58.
Dick Nash, trombonist, b.Jan. 26, 1928. With S Donahue '47; G Gray '49; Beneke '50;
  May '53.


Milt Jackson, b.Jan. 1, 1923. Vibraphonist with Gillespie '45-'47 / '50-'52; Herman '50;
  Basie '78 (Pablo LP).
Nick Fatool, b.Jan. 2, 1915. Drummer with Goodman '39-'40; Shaw '40-'41; Crosby
  '50-'52; G Gray '56 / '58 / '60 / '63 (Capitol LPs).
Frank Wess, b.Jan. 4, 1922. Saxophonist with Eckstine '46; Millinder '47; Basie '53-'64.
Marian Monroe, b.Jan. 7, 1912. Married to Vaughn Monroe from Apr. 2, 1940 until his
  death on May 21, 1973.  
Chuck Flores, b.Jan. 5, 1935. Drummer with Herman '54-'55.
Vernon Brown, b.Jan. 6, 1907. Trombonist with Goodman '37-'40 / '44; Shaw '40-'41;
  Spanier '42.
Haywood Henry, b.Jan. 7, 1919. Saxophonist with E Hawkins '36-'53; Oliver '73-'76.
Dave Schildkraut, b.Jan. 7, 1925. Saxophonist with Kenton '53-'54.
Bobby Tucker, b.Jan. 8, 1922. Pianist with Eckstine '49-'80s.
Betty Roche, b.Jan. 9, 1920. Vocalist with Ellington '43 / '52; Hines '44.
Buddy Johnson, b.Jan. 10, 1915. Leader of own band.
Bob Enevoldson, b.Jan. 11, 1920. Valve trombonist with Beneke '70s-'80s.
Jay McShann, b.Jan. 12, 1909. Pianist - leader of own band.
Trummy Young, b.Jan. 12, 1912. Trombonist - vocalist with Hines '33-'37; Lunceford
  '37-'43; Goodman '45; Armstrong '52-'63.
Danny Barker, b.Jan. 13, 1909. Guitarist with Calloway '37-'46.
Quentin Jackson, b.Jan. 13, 1909. Trombonist with Redman '38-'39 / '46; Calloway
  '40-'46 / '46-'48; Ellington '48-'59.
Billy Butterfield, b.Jan 14, 1917. Trumpeter with Crosby '37-'40; Shaw '40-'41; 
  Goodman '41; Brown '42. Leader of own band.
Jimmy Crawford, b.Jan. 14, 1910. Drummer with Lunceford '30-'43; Goodman 47;
  F Henderson '50; Oliver '47 / '49 / '50 / '51 / '52 / '58 / '60 / '62; Basie '60 ("String
  Along with Basie" LP).
Maxwell Davis, b.Jan. 14, 1916. Tenor saxophonist with F Henderson '49; conductor 
  for Crown LP tributes '58?.
Joe Muranyi, b.Jan. 14, 1928. Clarinetist with Armstrong '67-'71; Eldridge '75 ("Little
  Jazz and the Jimmy Ryan All-Stars" Pablo LP); Hampton '77.
Steve Jordan, b.Jan. 15, 1919. Guitarist with Bradley '40-'42; Raeburn '45 / '47; J
  Dorsey '47; Goodman '54 / '55 / '56 / '57.
Gene Krupa, b.Jan. 15, 1909. Drummer with Goodman '33-'38 / '43; T Dorsey 44.  
  Leader of own band.
Jerry Wald, b.Jan. 15, 1919. Clarinetist - leader of own band.
Ivie Anderson, b.Jan. 16, 1904. Vocalist with Ellington '31-'42.
Sandy Block, b.Jan. 16, 1917. Bassist with Rey '40-'41; T Dorsey '43-'47 / '50; Wald
  '44; Oliver '51 / '58; Armstrong '51 / '53 / '57.
Big Sid Catlett, drummer, b.Jan. 17, 1910. With Carter '32; F Henderson '36; Wilson
  '36; Redman '36-'38; Armstrong '38-'41 / '47 - '49; Goodman '41.
Vido Musso, b.Jan. 17, 1913. Tenor saxophonist with Goodman '36-'37 / '39 / '41-'42;
  Krupa '38; James '40-'41; Herman '42-'43; T Dorsey '45; Kenton '45-'46 / '47.
Tommy Reynolds, b.Jan. 17, 1917. Clarinetist - leader of own band.
Ray Sims, trombonist, b.Jan. 18, 1921. With Goodman '47; Brown '47-'57; James 
Bubber Miley, b.Jan. 19, 1903. Trumpeter with Ellington '24-'29.
Billy Maxted, b.Jan. 21, 1917. Pianist with Nichols '37-'40; Bradley '41-'42.
Teddy McRae, b.Jan. 22, 1908. Tenor saxophonist with Webb '36-'39; Calloway 
  '41-'42; Armstrong '44. Composer of Back Bay Shuffle  and Traffic Jam with 
  Artie Shaw.
Juan Tizol, b.Jan. 22, 1900. Trombonist - composer with Ellington '29-'44 / '51-'53 /
  '60 / '61; James '44-'51 / '53-'57.
Scoops Carry, b.Jan. 23, 1915. Saxophonist with F Henderson '36; Eldridge '37; H
  Henderson '39; Hines '40-'48.
Teddy Napoleon, b.Jan. 23, 1914. Pianist with Krupa '44-'58 [ on and off ].
Avery Parrish, b.Jan. 24, 1917. Pianist with E Hawkins '34-'41.
Truck Parham, b.Jan. 25, 1913. Bassist with Eldridge '37-'38?; Hines '40-'42; Lunceford
  '44-'47; Spanier '50-'55; Bellson '57-'59.
Skitch Henderson, b.Jan. 27, 1918. Pianist with Shaw '40.
Hot Lips Page, b.Jan. 27, 1908. Trumpeter with Shaw '41-'42.
Milt Raskin, b.Jan. 27, 1916. Pianist with Krupa '38-'39 / '41-'42; Powell '39-'40; Rey 
  '40; T Dorsey '42-'44; Shaw '46 (Musicraft); Auld '52.
Arnold Ross, b.Jan. 29, 1921. Pianist with Jenney '39; Monroe '40-'42; James '44-'47;
  Crosby '54-'56 (TV show); Jones '57 / '58 / '59.
Ed [ "Eddie" ] Shaughnessy, b.Jan. 29, 1929. Drummer with Byrne '48; Ventura '48-'50;
  Millinder '51-52.
Roy Eldridge, b.Jan. 30, 1911. Trumpeter with F Henderson '35-'36; Krupa '41-'43 / '49;
  Shaw '44-'45; Goodman '50. Leader of own band.
Bernie Leighton, b.Jan. 30, 1921. Pianist with Scott '40; Goodman '40; Shaw ('53
  "Speak to Me of Love" Decca LP; '68 "Artie Shaw Recreates His Great '38 Band"
  Capitol LP).
Bobby Hackett, b.Jan. 31, 1915. Trumpeter-cornetist-guitarist with Heidt '39-'40 / '41;
  Miller '41-'42; G Gray '44-'47; Goodman '62-'63; McKinley-Miller Orch '65 ("Glenn
  Miller Time" Epic LP); DeFranco-Miller Orch '72 (Columbia House); Morrow-
  Miller Orch '74 (NBC-TV "Today" show). Leader of own band.


Woody Herman. “The Third Herd: The Preacher,” Sounds of YesterYear (E) DSOY
  2018. Herman and his band of 1954 to 1957, heard in Omaha, NE as well as on
  the NBC-TV “Tonight Show” and “Timex Jazz” programs.
Stan Kenton. “Concerts In Miniature: Volume 11,” Sounds of YesterYear (E) DSOY
  2017. Complete in the original form of their presentation, this part includes two
  shows from January 1953 at the Hollywood Palladium.


     I continue to work hard on creating "Collector's Checklists" 33 rpms by the legendary big bands.  My latest include Louie BellsonBob CrosbyTommy DorseyJan GarberFletcher HendersonDon RedmanJan Savitt, and Claude Thornhill.  Use them to compare to what's in your collection or to be aware of titles that you're missing.


     Have you read "Community Swing," David Weiner's "musings on music, movies & all that jazz?"  You can find it at ... Bandleader Hal Kemp (1904-1940), who led a unique dance orchestra, and arranger Marion Evans (1926- ), who did some fine charts for Tex Beneke in the 1950s, were both inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame last month … We had a very successful concert last month celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of singer Frank Sinatra at Chicago Public Library, including his period as a vocalist with trumpeter Harry James and trombonist Tommy Dorsey … And in next month’s “News,” a review of some Count Basie music you’ve never heard before! … 

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