Sheldon joined Stan Kenton's orchestra in 1958, and was a soloist on Kenton's "The Stage Door Swings" album, recorded for Capitol.
    Under Benny Goodman's leadership in 1959, Sheldon toured Europe for a month and was heard on "The Sound of Music" album released by MGM.  He also took part in Goodman's 40th anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1978.
    "Benny was my mentor," Sheldon stated.  "I really respected him.  In fact, he even let me sing . . . Stan would never do that.  He was leery of my ad-libbing before the audience."
    In 1986, Woody Herman asked Sheldon to be the trumpeter in his small group which played the Vine Street Bar and Grill in Hollywood.
    "He was a great bandleader because he always got the best out of everybody," Sheldon explained to Herman biographer William D. Clancy.  "He didn't act like a leader, that's what I liked about him.  He just wanted the music to be good.  He didn't try to be a level above you.  He was very gracious and a very good showman.  He was just one of the guys, even though he was a world-famous bandleader."
    A new film documentary, "Trying to Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon," produced by Doug McIntyre and Penny Peyser, recently premiered.  And Sheldon, now age 76, continues to practice his horn three to four hours a day, and plays several regular jazz dates around the Los Angeles area.
    "I'm having a great time," he commented to Taylor.  "Just learning and playing."
On June 5, 2008, I received an e-mail from pianist Ron Mills, who recently concluded a tour of several months with The Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Larry O'Brien.  The "Chris Fortner" he mentions is a young trombonist from Indiana who formerly was with the Miller band and now works with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Buddy Morrow. 

"Nice stuff on Buddy Morrow in the newsletter.  Yes, when
we(the GMO) played in Lake Mary, Florida in January, Larry
  was very sincere regarding his praise for Buddy.  Larry &
  I always entered from the same side of the stage so we
  chatted before every gig; that night he looked out at Buddy
  and told me 'I owe so much to that man,' with tears in his
  eyes.  Buddy was weak that night, but I heard from Chris
  Fortner recently that during the tour last month the Old
  Man was just fine.  Why?  In the bus and on the road!  

I’m going back out with the GMO guys in the fall.  Thanks
  again for all your good info and updates every month!"

- Ron Mills

On November 15, 2008, my friend Tony Eaton sent me an e-mail noting that the publication date for the Miller book has now been pushed back an additional month, to February 15, 2009.  According to Tony, "Reason given: incorporation of important new references."  Tony kindly provided a copy of an advance review from Publishers

"Journalist and WWII-veteran Downs has spent the last 50
  years investigating the mysterious circumstances of the
  disappearance of big band leader Glenn Miller as his plane
  flew over the English Channel in 1944. Downs’s intriguing
  if far-fetched look at Miller’s final days presents a
  radical argument: Miller, an army major, was a U.S. spy
  who died while attempting to deliver a secret message from
  Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who was requesting a group of
  German generals to join a top-secret operation to disrupt
  Hitler’s war plans. Using his access to secret documents
  before and after the war ended, Downs makes a strong
  argument that Miller was captured in France by Nazi spies
  and tortured and killed during an unsuccessful interrogation
  in Paris to get him to reveal information about the
  operation. Downs interviews a number of U.S. troops who
  saw Miller’s dead body dumped outside a Parisian brothel,
  and he argues that the U.S. Army High Command created the
  fake story of Miller’s disappearance to keep the Nazis
  from claiming that they had broken Miller’s spirit. While
  Downs’s research has some merit, his breathlessly written
  suppositions sometimes read like the worst JFK
  assassination books."

send feedback about June 2008 "Big Band News" via e-mail
return to "Big Band News" directory
go to Big Band Library homepage

The big bands are back
in a new and exciting way!
JUNE 2008
compiled by Music Librarian CHRISTOPHER POPA

    Not only will it be the newly-formed Orlando Jazz Orchestra's first performance, but their June 1st concert at the Plaza Theatre in downtown Orlando is a salute to trombonist - bandleader Buddy Morrow [ r. ] and Morrow himself will be present.
    The Orchestra, including founders Don Johnson (trumpet), John Orsini (alto saxophone), and Greg Parnell (drums), will play music representing Morrow's long career.  From the mid-1930s to the mid-'40s, he was a sideman with the legendary big bands of Eddy Duchin, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Paul Whiteman, Bob Crosby, and Jimmy Dorsey.  Morrow formed his own group in 1945.
    "But I didn't know what the hell I wanted to do," he once recalled to historian - author Chip Deffaa.  "I didn't know stylistically how I wanted to create it; I just wanted to play trombone."
    When Morrow's cash ran out about two years later, he disbanded and went into studio work, where he was very successful.
    In 1950, while RCA Victor was trying to revive public interest in dance music, they signed Morrow, who eventually hit upon a winning formula of giving rhythm & blues ("r&b") tunes, such as Night Train and One Mint Julep, a gutsy, big band interpretation.
    Over the next two decades, Morrow appeared in various settings and made many recordings, such as the albums "Golden Trombone" (Mercury, 1957) and "Campus After Dark" (Epic, 1965).  In 1977, he became the leader of The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, where he has remained since.
    At the Orlando Jazz Orchestra's concert, Morrow will play a few selections with them and is to be given a lifetime achievement award.
    Congratulations, Buddy!

    One month and five days later, on July 6th, Buddy Morrow will conduct The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in a "battle of the big bands" with The Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Larry O'Brien at the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal (i.e., the "Montreal Jazz Festival") in Canada.
    Publicity states, "Flashback to the great ballrooms of New York in the late ‘30s.  Two legendary orchestras share the stage at the same time, battling it out for the honour of their incredible respective repertoires.  No holds barred!  And if some liberties are taken, if one orchestra poaches a signature tune or two—or even a musician!—from the other, it only adds to the fun!  With the two most prestigious big bands in the world, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Buddy Morrow, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra led by Larry O’Brien, expect nothing less than the Super Bowl of swing!  Touchdown!"
    Regardless of the outcome of the "battle," Morrow and O'Brien are on good terms.  This past January 16th, when the Miller Orchestra performed in Lake Mary, FL, Morrow was in attendance; O'Brien played the Dorsey band theme I'm Getting Sentimental Over You and dedicated it to Morrow.

Cab Calloway Orchestra directed by C. Calloway Brooks, June 1, Baltimore Hebrew
   Congregation, Baltimore, MD [ "A Night At the Cotton Club" ].
Bob Crosby Bobcats directed by Ed Metz, June 7, Drew University, Madison, NJ.
Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band directed by Slide Hampton, June 24-29, Blue Note Jazz
   Club, New York, NY.
Sammy Kaye Orchestra directed by Roger Thorpe, June 12, Penn's Peak, Jim Thorpe, PA;
  June 21, Mohonk Mt. House [ private ], New Paltz, NY.
Gene Krupa Orchestra directed by Michael Berkowitz, June 7, Kirtland Community
  College, Performing Arts, Roscommon, MI.
Lester Lanin Orchestra directed by Spencer Bruno, June 21, Luzerne County Courthouse,
  Wilkes-Barre, PA.
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Larry O'Brien, June 1, Paramount Arts Centre, Aurora,
  IL; June 5, Lake Arts Center, Okoboji, IA; June 7, Degner Regional Airport, Owatonna,
  MN; June 9, Derby Dinner Playhouse, Clarksville, IN; June 13-14, "Glenn Miller Birthplace
  Society Festival," Clarinda High School, Clarinda, IA; June 15, Guaranty Bank Parking
  Lot, Cedar Rapids, IA; June 17-18, Bear Creek Farms, Bryant, IN; June 20, Brockville
  Arts Centre, Brockville, Ontario, Canada; June 21, Newmarket Community Centre,
  Newmarket, Ontario, Canada; June 22, Quai du Vin Estate Winery, St. Thomas, Ontario,
  Canada; June 24, Hall Auditorium, Petoskey, MI; June 28, Doylestown Country Club
  [ private ], Doylestown, PA; June 29, Stardust Ballroom, Bellmawr, NJ; June 30, Astoria
  Park, Astoria, NY.
Russ Morgan Orchestra directed by Jack Morgan, June 4, Pla-Mor Ballroom, Lincoln, NE;
  June 14, Geneseo Music Fest, Geneseo, IL; June 22, Lammscapes Landscape Services
  and Garden & Design Center, Jackson, WI.

    Bunny Berigan was honored posthumously during an ASCAP invitation-only event at Lincoln Center in New York City on the 17th of this month.  Berigan's name was added to the ASCAP "Jazz Wall of Fame," along with the late composer - arranger Tadd Dameron, who wrote So Easy, recorded by Artie Shaw for Decca. 

    Midpoint Trade Books, distributor for Hunton Downs' The Glenn Miller Conspiracy: The never-before-told story of his life - and death, now states that the title will not be published until January 15, 2009 ( ! ).  The controversial book had been expected in February of this year, then was delayed until May.
    However, the publisher's website, Creative Book Publishers International, still gives the date as "May 2008," and offers this "Selection," headlined "Five Stars and An Oak Leaf":

"Never before in history, I’m reasonably sure, have those two monarchs of the 20th Century been compared. General of the Armies Dwight D. Eisenhower and Major Alton Glenn Miller, acknowledged No.1 master of modern dance-band music.

Yet, they have much in common: they stemmed from the same soil-rich flatlands of Mid-America, served in the same army at the same time, had common German derivatives for names: Eisenhower = iron-hewer or ironmonger, Miller (same) from Mueller, a mill grinder. Antecedents of both crossed the Atlantic in the 19th Century.  When they met (secretly) in 1944, Ike as he was familiarly called was 54; Glenn (he used his middle name preferably) was 40. History says they never knew each other despite serving in the same headquarters (SHAEF). But what evidence has surfaced proves that the Supreme Commander of American Expeditionary Forces in Europe was the last American to see Glenn Miller alive.  GM (Odin 7/13) did not get lost over the English Channel or die from a jettisoned bomb by RAF British-made Lancasters, as alleged in communiqués by SHAEF and government officials.  These allegations were never 'officially' investigated.  To bring military law to bear, legal officers of JAG (Judge Advocate General) have noted, could invite aspects of criminality into the case.  Certainly, proven facts were barebones in the Miller disappearance (December 1944), if at all laid out.  There was no official investigation of the tragedy either during the war, or afterward—up to today.  Lt. Philip Lorber in the Frankfurt JAG Section of USAREUR made interesting note in 1954 that if foul play were suspected in an officer’s death, even in wartime, criminality of intent alone could involve courts martial, up to and including high ranks.  In other words, if the Twinwood Farm takeoff was proven a sworn impossibility, then suspected foul play might enter and encroach upon an 'official' investigation.  In the case of a field grade officer higher grades could be involved.  How best to avoid such a mess?  Harshly stated, a cover up. 

Footnote:  Lt. Lorber, well-known Baltimore lawyer, was on Reserve duty. 'It is not the act in itself, say murder, which might implicate higher-up officers, but the cover-up, if such was proven.  Say, if the Twinwood claim of Glenn Miller taking off into thin air was positively disproved, and there was withheld knowledge of another, far-different set of death circumstance, all hell could break loose.'"

    The above is ©2008 Creative Books Publishers International and is quoted for promotional and informational purposes only.

Kelly-Jane Cotter, "A Daughter's Devotion: Lakewood Woman Keeps Nelson Riddle's
    Legacy Alive," Asbury Park [ NJ ] Press, June 15, 2008 [ Rosemary Riddle Acerra, 60,
    talks about the reissue of the 1958 Dot recording of her father's Cross-Country Suite ].
Bruce Crowther, "Lionel Hampton: Big Band Man," Jazz Journal International, June 2008
    (Vol.61 No.6), pp.10-13.
Jennifer Dean, "At 94 year vintage, silver screen legend and singer Herb Jeffries is still
    living it up in Idyllwild," [ Riverside, CA ] Press-Enterprise, June 16, 2008.
Doug Fischer, "DeFranco leads crowd on sweet trip back in time," Ottawa [ Canada ]
    Citizen, June 22, 2008 [ with guitarist Joe Cohn and three others, Buddy DeFranco, 85,
    played a variety of music including swing tunes from the 1930s at the Ottawa jazz
    festival ].
Gary Giddins, "Cadenza: Jazz's Other Louis," Jazztimes, June 2008, p.24 [ observing the
    influence of Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five ].
Peggy Harris, "Blues master," The [ Hong Kong ] Standard, June 27, 2008 [ comments on
    the centenary appreciation for bandleader - saxophonist Louis Jordan ].
Zan Stewart, "Deliciously Dizzy," [ Newark, NJ ] Star-Ledger, June 26, 2008 [ a review of
    The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, playing in New York City ].
Bert Whyatt, CD reviews, Jerry Gray and His Orchestra: "Off the Wall," Sounds of Yester
    Year ( UK ) DSOY729, Jazz Journal International, June 2008 (Vol.61 No.6), pp.27-28.

Harry James, "If I'm Lucky" (available separately or as part of the set "The Carmen Miranda
    Collection"), 20th Century Fox.

Jimmy Dorsey, "Bob Eberly and Helen O'Connell: Recapturing the Excitement of the Jimmy
    Dorsey Era," Collectors' Choice Music CCM-0946 [ = 1961 Warner Brothers LP ].
Skinnay Ennis, "A Date with An Angel," Joyce JRC1029 [ 1957 ].
Earl Hines, "Classic Trio Sessions," Lone Hill Jazz ( Sp ) LHJ10329 [ 1964-66; = two LPs
    "Fatha," Columbia CL 2320 / CS 9120 and "Here Comes Earl 'Fatha' Hines," Contact
    CM/CMS 6 ].
Stan Kenton, "The Chronological 1952-1953," Classics ( Fr ) 1461.
Lucky Millinder, "The Chronological 1951-1960," Classics ( Fr ) 1460.
Red Nichols, "The Chronological 1930-1931," Classics ( Fr ) 1462.

Bill Finegan, 91, arranger - composer (Miller '38-'42; T. Dorsey '42-'52) / bandleader (Sauter-Finegan '52-'57),
  d.June 4, 2008, "pneumonia."
Bob Grabeau, 79, vocalist (Garber '49-'50; Time-Life "Swing Era" '71-'72 Ray Eberle vocal parts), d.June 8, 2008,
  "complications of Alzheimer's disease."
Mickey McMahan, 77, trumpeter (Brown '56-'63?; Welk '67-'82), d.June 11, 2008, "neuropathy and an
  unrelated blood disease."
George Nowlan, 83, trumpeter (Byrne '46; Mooney '47?; Martin '51), d.June 12, 2008, "cardiac arrest"
   [ Mr. Nowlan became famous in the 1960s as "Danny Davis," leader of The Nashville Brass ].
Dave Carpenter, 48, bassist (Rich '83-'85; Ferguson '86; Herman '86-'87), d.June 23, 2008.

Zeke Zarchy, trumpeter (Haymes '35-36; Shaw '36; Crosby '36-'37 / '38-'39; T. Dorsey '39-'40; Miller '40 / '41-'42; Miller AAF
   '43-'45), b.June 12, 1915.
Lena Horne, vocalist (Barnet '40-'41; Shaw Love Me a Little Little and Don't Take Your Love From Me, Victor '41),
  b.June 30, 1917.

Jack Sheldon
(Kenton '58-'59;
Goodman '59-'60 / '65 /
'78 Carnegie Hall;
Herman '86)
    As a young jazz trumpeter, Sheldon was greatly influenced by Dizzy Gillespie.
    "After I first came to Los Angeles, Dizzy's band was playing at the Million Dollar Theater," he recently told jazz writer Larry Taylor.  "I waited around the back, and Dizzy used to let me in to hear.  He finally gave me a chance to sit in.  Which was a big thrill."