As was explained by Jonathan Rees in Glenn Miller Productions’ “On the Road” newsletter #110, “Performing 4-5 nights of the week, traveling the country, meeting new and interesting people are the constant highlights and positives of the road, but, it can be exhausting too. We are very much looking forward to a chance to recharge our batteries and start up again in June.”
Their itinerary this month takes them mostly to middle America and a few points farther west: June 8, Northport Community Arts Center, Northport, MI; June 10, Derby Dinner Playhouse, Clarksville, IN; June 12, Buttermilk Performance Center, Fond du Lac, WI; June 14-15, “Glenn Miller Festival,” Clarinda High School, Clarinda, IA; June 18, Broadway Theatre, Rock Springs, WY; June 19, Central Wyoming College, Riverton, WY; June 22, Fort Morgan Airport, Fort Morgan, CO; June 25, Pantages Playhouse, Winnipeg, Canada; June 29, Roosevelt Park, Minot, ND.
For a year and a half, The Glenn Miller Orchestra in the U.S. has had as its leader Nick Hilscher, and now includes a new female vocalist, Laura Hart of New York City (who replaced Eileen Burns), and a new drummer, Mike Malone from Oshkosh, WI (who replaced Holbrook Riles).
Rees observed, “The members change, but with those changes, different and new energies and talents are brought to the band with each new member. This allows the music to stay fresh and alive and sounding so very good for all of our fans.”
COMPACT DISC REVIEW:
"the glenn miller orchestra: in the mood
directed by nick hilscher"
D&P Music, LLC 91939
On their new CD, The Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Nick Hilscher has undertaken an interesting but risky idea: alongside new recordings of nine vintage Miller arrangements from the ‘30s and ‘40s, they have re-done a half-dozen songs and instrumentals played by Ray McKinley when he led the band in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
In fact, the recording and mix of the album is based on RCA Victor's "Living Stereo" technique, which was in vogue during most of McKinley's leadership, but using today's equipment and technology.
“It takes a great band to make this approach to recording come alive,” Hilscher commented, “and this band has certainly accomplished that goal.”
Yes, today's Miller band plays with good musicianship, as on Runnin' Wild! and Little Brown Jug, and it’s interesting to hear selections such as Once Upon a Keyboard and Stumbling again.
I suppose this CD would be a welcome souvenir for someone who saw the band at one of their appearances. The average person would probably enjoy it, perhaps never having heard the original recordings by Glenn Miller or Ray McKinley.
For a more devoted Miller aficionado like myself, however, comparisons with the earlier renditions are unavoidable and I'm sorry to say that this CD is just not as good.
Hilscher's edition of the band seems more often than not to have a less robust, less powerful sound than Miller and McKinley, despite the fact that they're supposedly playing the "authentic" charts. Some of the notes sound like they're taking "shortcuts," rather than as was originally orchestrated or played. I'm not saying that this CD is badly done on its own; it simply sounds like a band of today playing Miller music. (Curious that Jan Slottenas' Glenn Miller Orchestra in Scandanavia sounds more like the original Miller crew, more like they're trying to be exact.)
Overall, something here is just not as magical or memorable; I guess it can't be helped, because, most importantly, Hilscher's players simply are not, say, Willie Schwartz or Billy May nor Lenny Hambro or Eddie Zandy. Most of Hilscher's soloists will benefit from more experience.
Hilscher himself is a fine guy (I've communicated directly with him in the past) and I believe that's he's sincere about presenting the Miller music properly. Young and handsome, he looks good standing in front of the band. He sings ballads like Moonlight Becomes You nicely.
But - I think his voice is not as good a fit on rhythmic songs that Tex Beneke or McKinley originally did, like (I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo or Hallelujah, I Love Her So. If you don't believe me or agree, listen to them all back-to-back.
Performing Oh! So Good, Whistle Stop and other lesser-heard pieces live in concert or at dances might be welcome, but I think that this concept would have been be more exciting as a recording if the original versions were not so familiar and readily available (the Miller Bluebirds and Victors and broadcasts are easily found, and the McKinley RCA LPs were offered in toto by BMG Japan and, more recently, in piecemeal on Vocalion and Montpellier in England).
Total playing time is only 52:12, and did we really need another CD with In the Mood and A String of Pearls?
The disc comes in an attractive, fold-out package, with brief notes by Hilscher and composer, arranger, and soloist credits. (Hal Dickinson's name is mis-spelled "Dickenson".)
I'm glad that they made this CD, but what The Glenn Miller Orchestra could do on future CDs for the more nit-picky Miller fans is to choose tunes that were never recorded by Miller or any of the subsequent “ghost bands” (like the unnamed Jerry Gray, Bily May, and George Williams originals that were in the library, or newer songs in the well-defined Miller style), so there could be no direct comparisons.
Better yet, remaster with perfect picture and sound for DVDs the "Glenn Miller Time" TV shows that were done on CBS in 1961. That band, under McKinley's expertise and with Johnny Desmond's vocals, had it all!
Big Band Library rating: OKAY
MORE NEW COMPACT DISCS
Jimmy Dorsey. “The Voice of America Transcriptions,” Sounds of YesterYear ( E ) DSOY
928. Compilation of VOA Dance Music show #s 107, 133, 136, 139, and 233. Songs
include Dime a Dozen, Moon of Manakoora, and It’s the Dreamer in Me.
Roy Eldridge. "Ella Fitzgerald with The Roy Eldridge Sextet: Live in Stockholm 1957,"
'In' Crowd ( E ) 996688. 18 tracks. Total time 66:46.
Duke Ellington. "All American in Jazz / Midnight in Paris," Essential Jazz Classics ( E )
EJC55591. 2 LPs on 1 CD with 22 tracks. Total time 77:27.
Benny Goodman. “AFRS Benny Goodman Show Volume 18,” Sounds of YesterYear ( E )
DSOY929. Another in the series, this one including Clarinet a la King, Somebody
Stole My Gal, and Mahzel.
Jerry Gray. “Live At the Hollywood Palladium,” Sounds of YesterYear ( E ) DSOY930.
The tunes include Petite Fleur, Seven Forty Two, That Old Feeling, Don’t You Know,
and a medley of A Certain Smile / A Very Precious Love / Ruby / Gigi.
Various artists. “Adapting the Classics,” Sounds of YesterYear ( E ) DSOY923. The 26
selections include The Lamp Is Low (Shaw), Surprise Symphony (Beneke),
Humoresque (T Dorsey), and Tonight We Love (Martin).
WOULD YOU PREFER RECORDS?
The 39th annual Jazz Record Collectors’ Bash takes place on the 21st and 22nd of this month at the Hilton Woodbridge in Iselin, NJ. Along with CDs, they’ll have 78s and LPs and memorabilia for sale, plus jazz collector and film historian David Weiner will host an evening session of rare film and TV clips.
NAME BANDS IN-PERSON
Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Bill Tole. June 6, Temecula Little Theater, Temecula,
CA; June 29, Sams Town Casino, Las Vegas, NV.
Les Elgart Orchestra. June 26, Keller City Hall, Keller, TX.
Jan Garber Orchestra directed by Howard Schneider. June 23, Surf Ballroom, Clear
Harry James Orchestra directed by Fred Radke. June 6-9, aboard riverboat, Baton
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
Marty Napoleon, pianist, b.June 2, 1921. Pianist with Powell '43-'44, Armstrong '52 / '53.
David Schwartz, 96, d.June 5, 2013. Violist with Miller AAF '43-'45.
Wynne Miller, 87, d.June 23, 2013. Niece of Glenn Miller.
Paul Smith, 91, d.June 29, 2013, heart failure. Pianist with T Dorsey '47-'49.
Nelson Riddle, b.June 1, 1921. Trombonist-composer-arranger with Spivak, T Dorsey.
Ernie Royal, b.June 2, 1921. Trumpeter with Hampton, Herman, Kenton.
Britt Woodman, b.June 4, 1920. Trombonist with Hampton, Ellington.
Ted Lewis, b.June 6, 1892. Leader of own band.
Jimmie Lunceford, b.June 6, 1902. Leader of own band.
Tal Farlow, b.June 7, 1921. Guitarist with Norvo, Shaw.
Glen Gray, b.June 7, 1906. Leader of own band.
Wes Hensel, b.June 10, 1919. Trumpeter-composer-arranger with Barnet, Raeburn,
Dickie Wells, b.June 10, 1909. Trombonist with F Henderson, Basie, Oliver.
Shelly Manne, b.June 11, 1920. Drummer with Byrne, Scott, Kenton.
Lennie Niehaus, b.June 11
Zeke Zarchy, b.June 12, 1915. trumpeter with Goodman, Shaw, Crosby, T Dorsey, Miller.
Doc Cheatham, b.June 13, 1905. Trumpeter with Calloway, Wilson, Carter.
Clarence Hutchenrider, b.June 13, 1908. Clarinetist with G Gray.
Si Zentner, b.June 13, 1917. Trombonist with Brown, James, J Dorsey. Leader of own
Nappy Lamare, b.June 14, 1910. Guitarist with Crosby.
Allan Reuss, b.June 15, 1915. Guitarist with Goodman, Teagarden, Weems, J Dorsey,
Stan Wrightsman, b.June 15, 1910. Pianist with Pollack, Crosby.
Lucky Thompson, b.June 16, 1924. Tenor saxophonist with Basie, Teagarden.
Ray Bauduc, b.June 18, 1909. Drummer with Pollack, Crosby, J Dorsey, Teagarden.
Ray McKinley, b.June 18, 1910. Drummer with Dorsey Bros, J Dorsey, Bradley, Miller.
Leader of own band.
Babe Russin, b.June 18, 1911. Tenor saxophonist with Nichols, Goodman, T Dorsey,
J Dorsey, G Gray.
Jerry Jerome, b.June 19, 1912. Tenor saxophonist with Miller, Norvo, Goodman, Hampton,
Lloyd Morales, b.June 19, 1928. Drummer with Brown.
Joe Thomas, tenor saxophonist, b.June 19, 1909. Tenor saxophonist with Lunceford.
Lammar Wright, Sr., b.June 20, 1912. Trumpeter with Calloway.
Ella Johnson, b.June 22, 1923. Vocalist with Johnson (her brother).
Ben Pollack, b.June 22, 1903. Leader of own band.
Milt Hinton, b.June 23, 1910. Bassist with Calloway, Armstrong, Goodman.
Eddie Miller, b.June 23, 1911. Tenor saxophonist with Pollack, Crosby.
Bill Russo, b.June 25, 1928. Trombonist-composer-arranger for Kenton.
Shad Collins, b.June 27, 1910. Trumpeter with Basie, Calloway.
Ben Homer, b.June 27, 1917. Composer for Chester, Teagarden, Shaw, T Dorsey,
Pete Candoli, b.June 28, 1923. Trumpeter with Bradley, T Dorsey, Herman, Beneke.
Jimmy Mundy, b.June 28, 1907. Composer-arranger for Hines, Goodman, Basie,
Mousie Alexander, b.June 29, 1922. Drummer with Sauter-Finegan, Goodman.
Ralph Burns, b.June 29, 1922. Composer – pianist with Barnet, Norvo, Herman.
Lena Horne, b.June 30, 1917. Vocalist with Barnet, Shaw.
Buddy Rich, b.June 30, 1917. Drummer with Berigan, Shaw, T Dorsey. Leader of
NEW IN-PRINT AND / OR ONLINE
Alan Luff. "Anec-dotage: Alan Luff recalls one of the quiet gentlemen of jazz," Jazz
Journal, Volume 66 No.6 / June 2013, p.17. Luff remembers Teddy Wilson.
More about Major Glenn Miller from one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject.