The big bands are back
in a new and exciting way!
compiled by Music Librarian CHRISTOPHER POPA     
Glenn Miller and His Orchestra: “A Million Dreams Ago:
More Broadcast Selections From The Limited Edition Albums”
Sepia (E) 1287
     In March 2011 when the 2-CD set “75 Glenn Miller Masterpieces” (Sepia 1165) was created by combining a keepsake album of some of his finest broadcast performances, “For the Very First Time” (RCA Victor LPM-6100), with a dozen choice tracks from two landmark “Limited Edition” anthologies (RCA Victor LPT-6700 and 6701), fans were delighted.  Now, in response to requests from around the world, the remaining 80 wonderful airchecks from both “Limited Edition” sets have been gathered for this new, 3-CD package.
     Included are hits like Sunrise SerenadeA String of Pearls, and American Patrol, as well as collector’s favorites such as Under a Blanket of BlueThe Hour of Parting, and Bugle Call Rag.  Dates of the performances range from 1938 to 1942.
     This is some of the original Miller music that collectors around the world have been asking for, and, unfortunately, Sony Music Entertainment, which absorbed RCA in 2004, thus far has shown little or no interest in reissuing it.  After all those Miller records we purchased over the years from RCA and related labels (often with the same songs ad nauseum), they seem to have abandoned us.
     So here’s the best possible alternative, in remastered sound with original artwork and other archival images, and, actually, improved over the old LPs with its own beautiful new cover, the production history and little-known trivia about the “Limited Edition” albums, and a discography which corrects many names, dates, or other details. Those qualities alone should cinch the purchase of this set.
     If you’re a serious Glenn Miller fan - whether you grew up with his music long ago or are a young person now discovering his sound – you’ll want this!  All of it has been done with loving care, believe me.  
Big Band Library rating: You’ve been waiting for this one!  

Larry Elgart. “Bobby Scott: Joyful Noises / Larry Elgart: The City,” El (E) Records.
   Scott performed with Prima and Krupa in the ‘50s, but this is primarily if you would
   want one of Elgart’s MGM albums.
Duke Ellington. “Black Power,” Squatty Roo Records 237. The Ellington band live in
   Paris in 1969. Besides the tunes listed as Tenorsaxophonic Calisthenics and Black 
   Power, it’s pretty much a familiar line-up of Ellington tune titles – so I wouldn’t call this 
   a must-buy, unless you are an Ellington completist.
---. “The Conny Plank Session,” Groenland 5060238631709. Recorded in 1970 – 
   three takes each of Alerado and Afrique, showing Ellington creativity at work.
Benny Goodman. “Body and Soul: 1935 Sessions Introducing The Benny Goodman
   Trio,” Halcyon (E) 147. Music from September to November 1935.
Ted Heath. “Ted Heath & His Music: Great Day: Rare Transcription Recordings Of The
   1960s,” Vocalion (E) CDEA 6237. Program nos. 75, 76, and 77, recorded at BBC
   Studios in London in 1960. Another nicely-done job by Vocalion, established by
   a leading British recording and remastering engineer, Michael J. Dutton.
Harry James. “Seems Like Old Times,” Halcyon (E) 146. Live performances from
   autumn 1946, such as Five Minutes MoreOh! But I Do, and Seems Like Old Times.
Stan Kenton. “Stan Kenton ‘live’: His Artistry And Rhythms,” Mr. Music MMCD7042.
   20 live selections done mostly in 1945 and featuring both the expected songs (Eager
   BeaverTampicoSouthern ScandalPainted Rhythm) and the expected sidemen
   (Vido Musso, Eddie Safranski, June Christy). One more good job from producer
   and label owner Wayne Knight.

     It’s hard to believe that Van Alexander turned 100 this past May but, unfortunately, died on July 19th of natural causes (as I included in last month's "News.")  What isn’t surprising is that he’ll be formally saluted at a dance on the 12th of this month at Maxwell DeMille’s Cicada Club at the Oviatt Building on South Olive Street in downtown Los Angeles – he surely deserved that honor!
     Alexander was one of Chick Webb’s arrangers before starting his own band in the late 1930s. It was he who composed A Tisket, A-Tasket, one of Webb’s classics which featured young Ella Fitzgerald on the vocal.
     On the bandstand at the centennial dance party will be The George Gee Swing Orchestra. Gee comments, “Van Alexander’s legacy with the Chick Webb orchestra, Ella Fitzgerald and the Savoy Ballroom is so important. Van is a true bridge to the classic Savoy style big band of Harlem from the 30s and 40s . . . He came to our ‘Battle of the Big Bands’ in Culver City (CA) last summer and was thrilled and awed by the modern day community of lindy hop and big band enthusiasts.
     Alexander had planned on attending the show as their special VIP honoree, but at least he knew that the celebration was in the works.
     Besides A-Tisket, A-Tasket, the live music that night is expected to include Let’s Get Together (Chick Webb’s theme), transcribed from the original recording.
     More details are on

     Now through August 31st, The SoHo Playhouse in New York City is presenting “Bombshell of Rhythm: The Life & Secrets of Ina Ray Hutton.” The show was previously done in Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Washington, DC and won a “Pick of the Fringe” award.
     “Bombshell of Rhythm” is a dramatic, one-woman biographical theater piece by Melissa Ritz, telling the story of Hutton, who was an underrated and often-overlooked female pioneer of The Big Band Era.  
     As Ritz explained to me, "the more research I did on Ina, the more respect I had for her.  She was fighting for equality in a man's world of jazz music in the 1930's, 40's and 50's.  She was a pioneer for women in entertainment and didn't take 'no' for an answer."
     Music heard during the show includes tunes once performed by Hutton such as I’m a Hundred Percent for YouEarthquakeTruckin’JazznocracyOrgan Grinder’s SwingDoin’ the Suzi-QWas It Worth It?, and Five O’Clock Whistle.
     How did it make Ritz feel to win the "Pick of the Fringe" award?
     "It was a beautiful surprise," she acknowledged.  "It feels nice to be recognized or the hard work and long hours that I've put into the show.  Not just for me, but for my design team as well.  It's never really a 'solo show.'  There are numerous designers involved, and my director is a big reason why the show has received these accolades."
     More information about the production is online at
     "I'd also like to add a request that people get out to a theater and support live artists," Ritz commented.  "Turn off the TV and go see a show...a reading...a performance.  See where work originated and track its evolution.  And if you feel inspired by someone, support them and get their name out."

     A year-long celebration of the legacy of the late drummer-bandleader Louie Bellson, which began last July with the 90th anniversary of his birth, is winding down.  
     Bellson (1924-2009), recipient of a prestigious American Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1994, was once called the “world’s greatest musician” by Duke Ellington, for whom he worked at various times in the 1950s and ‘60s.   He also played drums on other occasions for Benny Goodman, The Dorsey Brothers, Harry James, and Count Basie.  And, of course, he led his own band for many years.
     His widow, Francine, has done an admirable job keeping his name in front of music fans; during the last 12 months, a new book about Italians in jazz, Bebop, Swing and Bella Musica, by Bill Dal Cerro and Anthony David Witter (Chicago, IL: Bella Musica Publishing); and concert tributes, exhibits, displays, and radio programs all in Bellson’s honor.
     Of course, the official Bellson website celebrates his life and career with a variety of information, including, for example, copies of some of his big band’s arrangements, such as Skin Deep and The Hawk Talks, available for purchase, and video footage of Bellson himself talking about his drumming and music. 

John Miller, b.Aug 3, 1941. Nephew of Glenn Miller; leader and vocalist with The Herb 
   Miller Orchestra.
Urbie Green, b.Aug 8, 1926. Trombonist with Savitt '45; Carle ’45; Krupa ’47 / ’50; 
   leader of T Dorsey Orch ’66-’67.
Frank Capp, b.Aug 20, 1931. Drummer with Kenton ’51; Hefti ’52.
Jerry Dodgion, b.Aug 19, 1932. Alto saxophonist with Carter ’55; Goodman ’59-’60 / 
   ’61 / ’62.  

Les Elgart, b.Aug. 3, 1918.  Trumpeter with Berigan ’40?.  Leader of own band / band 
   with his brother Larry.
Claude Hopkins, b.Aug. 3, 1903.  Pianist - leader of own band.
Charlie Shavers, b.Aug. 3, 1917.  Trumpet – arranger with Kirby ’36?-’44. Trumpeter
   with T Dorsey ’45-’49 / ’53; Goodman ’53 / ’54; Dorsey Bros ’54?-'56; T Dorsey 
   Orch-Donahue ’61-’65.
Jess Stacy, b.Aug. 4, 1904.  Pianist with Goodman ’35-’39 / ‘43; Crosby ’39-’42; 
   T Dorsey ’44.  Leader of own band.
Luis Russell, b.Aug. 5, 1902. Pianist with Armstrong ’35-’43. Leader of own band.
Norman Granz, b.Aug. 6, 1918. Producer of “Jazz At the Philharmonic” ’44-‘50s; 
   record label owner - producer (Clef / Verve / Pablo).
Warren Covington, b.Aug. 7, 1921. Trombonist with I Jones ’39; Heidt ’43?; Brown ’46?.
   Leader of T Dorsey Orch ’58-’61.   Leader of own band.
Freddie Slack, b.Aug. 7, 1910. Pianist with J Dorsey ’36-’39; Bradley ’39-’41.  
   Leader of own band.
Benny Carter, b.Aug. 8, 1907.  Leader of own band.
Lucky Millinder, b.Aug. 8, 1900. Leader of Mills Blue Rhythm Band ’34-?.   Leader of 
   own band.
Arnett Cobb, b.Aug. 10, 1918.  Tenor saxophonist with Hampton ’42-’47.
Claude Thornhill, b.Aug. 10, 1909.   Pianist – arranger with Noble ’35-’36; Shaw Navy 
   band ‘42.  Leader of own band.
Russell Procope, b.Aug. 11, 1908.  Saxophonist with Webb ’29-’30; F Henderson
   '31-’34; Carter ’34; Teddy Hill ’34-’38; Kirby ’38-’45; Ellington ’46-'61 / '61-'74.
Joe Puma, b.Aug. 13, 1927.  Guitarist with Shaw ’53; Bellson ’54?.
Frank Devito, b.Aug. 14, 1930.  Drummer with DeFranco ’49 / ’51.
Morey Feld, b.Aug. 15, 1915.  Drummer with Pollack ’36; Joe Haymes ’38; Goodman
   ’44-’45; Hackett ’53.
Joe Garland, b.Aug. 15, 1907.  Tenor saxophonist for Millinder ‘30s; Hayes ‘30s; 
   Redman ‘30s; Armstrong ’41-’46?.  Composer of Leap Frog and In the Mood.
Tommy Pederson, b.Aug. 15, 1920.  Trombonist with Krupa ’40-’45; T Dorsey ’43; 
   Barnet ’44 / ’46.
Al Hibbler, b.Aug. 16, 1915.  Vocalist with McShann ’42; Ellington ’43-’51.
Larry Clinton, b.Aug. 17, 1909.  Arranger – composer for I Jones ’33; Hopkins ’33; 
   Dorsey Bros ’34; G Gray ’35-’36; T Dorsey ’37; Berigan ’37.  Leader of own band.
George Duvivier, b.Aug. 17, 1920.  Bassist with C Hawkins ’41; Millinder ’42.  Arranger
   for Lunceford ’42 / ’45-’47.
Ike Quebec, b.Aug. 17, 1918.  Tenor saxophonist with Calloway ’44-’51 [ not
   continuous ].
Jack Sperling, b.Aug. 17, 1922.  Drummer with Berigan ’41-’42; Beneke Navy band 
   ’43-’45 / Beneke-Miller Orch ’46-’49 / Beneke ‘60s / ‘70s [ not continuous ]; 
   Brown ’50-’54 / '60s / '70s [ not continuous ]; Crosby ’54-’57.
Med Flory, b.Aug. 17, 1926.  Saxophonist with Thornhill ’50; Mooney ’52?; Herman 
   ’53 / ’59.
Don Lamond, b.Aug. 18, 1920.  Drummer with Herman ’45-’46 / ’47-’49; Shaw 
   Capitol LP ’68.
Eddie Shu, b.Aug. 18, 1918.  Saxophonist with Hampton ’49-’50; Barnet ’50-’51; Krupa 
Eddie Durham, b.Aug. 19, 1906.  Arranger – composer for Lunceford (Pigeon Walk
   Lunceford SpecialBlues in the Groove); Basie (Out the WindowTopsyTime 
   Out); Miller (Slip Horn JiveGlen Island SpecialWham).
Spud Murphy, b.Aug. 19, 1908.  Saxophonist – arranger for Garber ’31-’32; Hallett ’33; 
   Joe Haymes ’34. Arranger for Goodman; G Gray.
Jimmy Rowles, b.Aug. 19, 1918.  Pianist with Goodman ’42; Herman ’42-’43 / ’46; 
   Crosby ’47-’51.
Frank Rosolino, b.Aug. 20, 1926.  Trombonist with Chester ’46-’47; G Gray ’47; 
   Krupa ’48-’49; Pastor ’49; Auld ’51; Kenton ’52-’54.
Joya Sherrill, b.Aug. 20, 1927.   Vocalist with Ellington ’44-’48 / ’57.
Jack Teagarden, b.Aug. 20, 1905.  Trombonist with Pollack ’28-’33; Whiteman ’34-’38;
   Armstrong ’47-’51. Leader of own band.
Count Basie, b.Aug. 21, 1904.  Pianist with Moten ’30?-’35.  Leader of own band.
Bob Crosby, b.Aug. 23, 1913.  Vocalist with Dorsey Bros ’35.  Leader of own band.
Paul Webster, b.Aug. 24, 1909.  Trumpeter with Lunceford ’35-’42; Calloway ’44-’52 
   [ not continuous ]; Barnet ’46-’47 / ’52-’53; Oliver ‘50s.
Billy Moore, b.Aug. 25, 1917.  Composer – arranger for Lunceford ’39-’42? (incl 
   Belgium StompWhat’s Your Story Morning Glory, Chopin Prelude No.7Bugs
   ParadeMonotony in Four Flats); Barnet ’44 (incl Skyliner).
Jimmy Rushing, b.Aug. 26, 1903.  Vocalist with Moten ’29; Basie ’35-’50; Goodman 
   ’58 / ’59.
Frances Wayne, b.Aug. 26, 1924.  Vocalist with Barnet ’42; Herman ’43-’46?; Hefti 
   ’52-’53 / ’74.  Married Hefti ’45.
Peter Appleyard, b.Aug. 26, 1928.  Vibraphonist with Goodman ’71-’77.
Lester Young, b.Aug. 27, 1909.  Tenor saxophonist with Kirk; Basie ’36-’40 / ’43-’44.
Charlie Parker, b.Aug. 29, 1920.  Alto saxophonist with McShann ’41; Hines ’43; 
   Eckstine '44.
Dinah Washington, b.Aug. 29, 1924.  Vocalist with Hampton ’43-’46.
Willie Bryant, b.Aug. 30, 1908.  Leader of own band.
Edgar Sampson, b.Aug. 31, 1907.  Saxophonist with Ellington ’27; F Henderson ’31-’33.
   Saxophonist / composer – arranger with Webb ’33-’37. Arranger for Goodman 
   ’36-’38. Composer of Blue LouIf Dreams Come TrueStomping At the Savoy
   Don’t Be That WayLullaby in Rhythm.

Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Nick Hilscher. Aug 1, The Grand, Ellsworth, ME;
   Aug 3-4, Arden Park Hotel, Stratford, Ontario, Canada; Aug 7, Southern Kentucky
   Performing Arts Center, Bowling Green, KY; Aug 9, Meramec Music Theatre
   Steelville, MO; Aug 13, Farris Theatre, Richmond, MO; Aug 15, Raton Convention
   Center, Raton, NM; Aug 16, Sister, Albuquerque, NM; Aug 18, Plaza Theatre, El
   Paso, TX; Aug 19, Fox Theatre, Tucson, AZ; Aug 21, Calavera Hills Community Park,
   Carlsbad, CA; Aug 22, High Street Arts Center, Moorpark, CA; Aug 23, St. Andrew’s
   Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, CA; Aug 25, Orchard Creek Ballroom, Lincoln,
   CA; Aug 26, Fox Theater Salinas, Salinas, CA; Aug 27, Gualala Arts Center, Gualala,
   CA; Aug 28, State Theatre, Red Bluff, CA; Aug 29-30, Yoshi’s, Oakland, CA. 

     In next month’s “News,” the great work that a university is doing to preserve the legacy of one of the big band titans.  And how a music society is trying to save the collection of a longtime fan.

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