"Three Cheers for Sepia!," as Gerry Stonestreet of In Tune International once wrote. "If ever proof was required that the government was right to kick out the ridiculous proposal to extend the copyright law, here it is in abundance. No, as well all know, the majors are not interested in this kind of music and if labels like Sepia did not exist, the collector would be on a starvation diet. I can only marvel at what Richard Tay, the label's owner, has achieved, not just the music itself, but the standard of presentation, with charming photgraphs and artwork in mouth watering colors and the invariably excellent remastering that breathes fresh life into the old recordings."
Starting with all 57 musical selections originally issued in 1959 on the RCA Victor 3-LP package "For the Very First Time" (LPM-6100) - which is out of copyright in the UK - this new release retains most of the set's attractive artwork, corrects the dates of three selections, adds two medleys and 10 full-length songs or instrumentals to take advantage of the CD format, and provides a listing of the personnel of all of these "Chesterfield" radio airshots.
To my ears, this set contains some of the most appealing Miller performances, including I Hear a Rhapsody with Ray Eberle and The Modernaires, vocal; Solid As a Stonewall,
Jackson, a Jerry Gray original; The Nickel Serenade, featuring Marion Hutton and The Modernaires; and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, arranged by Bill Finegan.
Compare Sepia's presentation of "75 Glenn Miller Masterpieces" with any other collector's label, even the almighty RCA - which had the poor taste to include, in one of its own latest "authorized" Miller releases, the 2004 "Centennial Collection" (Bluebird 59104-2), a horrible "DJ Touche Remix" of Pennsylvania 6-5000. Since then, Sony-BMG, the corporation which controls Miller's original Bluebird and Victor recordings, has chosen to keep repackaging his biggest hits, such as In the Mood, Tuxedo Junction, and Moonlight Cocktail, ad infinitum (or should that be ad nauseum?), as most recently on "Ultimate Big Band Collection: Glenn Miller."
Tay is clearly an admirer of Miller's talents, and has produced "75 Glenn Miller Masterpieces" with loving care. He should be congratulated for doing a fine job with Miller's legacy. His engineer, Robin Cherry, has re-mastered the sound of the music, which was recorded off-the-air in 1940-42, very well, using the Cedar system. Likewise, graphic designer Ray Leaning has done a quite attractive job with the artwork, incorporating that eye-catching "For the Very First Time" watercolor portrait of Miller on the cover and a number of publicity photos of Miller and information about The Glenn Miller Society within the booklet.
In the case of "75 Glenn Miller Masterpieces," which is Sepia catalog number 1165, I don't know how it could have been done any better or more sincerely without access to the original sources. By the way, it should be noted that Sepia does pay mechanicals - they pay composer royalties to their MCPS.
Big Band Library rating: EXCELLENT
More New CDs
Ray Anthony. "Brass Galore," Montpellier [ UK ] MONTCD074. = the Capitol LPs "Sound
Spectacular" (ST-1200) and "Like Wild" (ST-1304). NOTE: "Like Wild" was already
issued on CD, in 2007, by Lonehill Jazz.
Louis Armstrong. "Live in Amsterdam 1959," Solar Records 4569891.
Count Basie. "Ultimate Big Band Collection," Sony Masterworks 80545.
Tex Beneke. "The Glenn Miller Formula," Sounds of YesterYear [ UK ] DSOY 846.
In 1949, Beneke revisits some big Miller hits.
Tommy Dorsey. "Ultimate Big Band Collection," Sony Masterworks 80546.
Ralph Flanagan. "One Night Stand and AFRS All Star Parade Recordings," Sounds of
YesterYear [ UK ] DSOY 847. Flanagan at the Hotel Statler in New York City 1950-51.
Woody Herman. "That's Where It Is," Sounds of YesterYear [ UK ] DSOY 845. Material
made for SESAC in 1959 and 1962, such as The Thirteenth Instant, Misery
Stay Away From My Door, The Devil And The Stoker, and Freud’s And Alice’s.
It was already issued on CD as Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDCD 630.
Harry James. "Ultimate Big Band Collection," Sony Masterworks 80548.
Louis Jordan. "The Rock 'N' Roll Years 1955-58," Jasmine [ UK ] JASCD 151. 2-CD set
including the Mercury albums "Somebody Up There Digs Me" (MG 20242) and "Man
We're Wailin'" (MG 20331) + misc. singles. The Mercury LPs were already issued on
CD in 2005 in Japan as Mercury UCCU-3011 and UCCU-3012, respectively; and the
Vik and "X" recordings were already issued on CD in 1993 as Bluebird 66145.
Artie Shaw. "Ultimate Big Band Collection," Sony Masterworks 80549.
Various artists. "JAZZ: The Smithsonian Anthology," Smithsonian Folkways. 6-CD,
200-page compedium which expands and updates the 1973 "Smithsonian Collection of
Classic Jazz" set. The 111 tracks include Henderson (The Stampede), Ellington (Black
and Tan Fantasy; Ko-Ko; Cotton Tail; Isfahan), Whiteman (From Monday On),
Armstrong (West End Blues; Weather Bird; Swing That Music; Stompin' At the Savoy),
Waller (Dinah), Wilson (Mean to Me), Lunceford (For Dancers Only), Basie (One O'Clock
Jump; The Golden Bullet; Meet B.B.), Webb (Harlem Congo), Kirk (Mary's Idea),
Hampton (When Lights Are Low), Hawkins (Body and Soul), Goodman (Honeysuckle
Rose), Calloway (Hard Times), Shaw (Star Dust), Krupa (Let Me Off Uptown), Gillespie
(Shaw 'Nuff; Manteca), Herman (Four Brothers), and Kenton (23 Degrees North, 82
Count Basie. "Then As Now, Count's the King," MVD Visual. 70 minutes.
Duke Ellington. "Reminiscing in Tempo," MVD Visual. 75 minutes.
"Some of the anecdotes they told me are dramatized in the play," she explained to Alec Harvey of the Birmingham News.
"We were able to get the rights to Erskine's original recordings," the show's director, Abe Reybold, noted. "It's important for kids to hear that style of music. For most of them, this may be the first time they've heard Big Band music."
While the play may be primarily intended for viewing by school-age audiences, a performance open to the general public was held on the 12th of last month.
"Les Brown Weekend"
People in the region around where Les Brown was from in Pennsylvania can take a "sentimental journey" in his memory on the 25 through the 27th of this month. A son of R.W. Brown, a baker and musician, Brown was born March 14, 1912 in the Tower City area and raised in Reinerton, PA.
The fifth annual "Les Brown Weekend" will include entertainment by college and high school jazz ensembles, and there will be a jazz worship service at a local church.
A large collection of Les Brown memorabilia will be on display at the Williams Valley High School in Tower City, and his son, Les Brown Jr., who directs the Band of Renown today, is tentatively scheduled to be in attendance.
Also, on the evening of the 26th, one of Les' brothers, "Stumpy" (real name: Clyde), 84, will speak via telephone from his home in Palm Desert, CA. (Les' other siblings were Warren and Silvia.)
Remembering Artie Shaw
From Tucson comes word that the University of Arizona, which holds The Artie Shaw Collection of scores and other items, will be sponsoring two tributes to Shaw this month, during their 33rd annual "AzJazz Week."
A lecture, "Artie Shaw: Idol of Swing," will be given at 2:00 pm on the 9th in Room 111 of the University's Cesar Chavez Building, followed by a performance, "Remembering Artie," with clarinetist Ron Hockett and the Jeff Haskell Trio, at 7:30 pm the following night in Crowder Hall.
Count Basie Orchestra directed by Dennis Mackrel. Mar. 18: Lied Center for the Performing
Arts, Lincoln, NE.
Tex Beneke Orchestra directed by Jim Snodgrass. Mar. 13, California Center for the Arts,
Escondido, CA [ with The Modernaires, others ].
Harry James Orchestra directed by Fred Radke. Mar. 4, Greenville, SC; Mar. 6, Scottsdale,
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Gary Tole. Mar. 1, Carriage Manor, Mesa, AZ; Mar. 4,
Eastern Wyoming College, Torrington, WY; Mar. 6, WYO Theater, Sheridan, WY; Mar. 7,
Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Rapid City, SD; Mar. 9, The Redstone Room, Davenport,
IA; Mar. 11, Orpheum Theatre, Wichita, KS; Mar. 12, The Sooner Theatre, Norman, OK;
Mar. 16, Beaver Falls Middle School, Beaver Falls, PA; Mar. 18, Sunnybrook Ballroom,
Pottstown, PA; Mar. 19, First United Methodist Church, Toms River, NJ; Mar. 20, Long
Island University, Greenvale, NY; Mar. 21, private, Vineland Memorial Veterans Home,
Vineland, NJ; Mar. 26, Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center, Huntington, TN; Mar. 28,
Marion Cultural & Civic Center, Marion, IL; Mar. 29, The Holiday, Olney, IL.
Modernaires with Paula Kelly Jr.: Mar. 12, Hollywood Palladium [ with Pat Longo's 18-piece
"Hollywood Big Band," Peter Marshall, others ]; Mar. 26, Valley Vista Performing Arts
Center, Surprise, AZ.
Danny Stiles, 87, d.Mar. 11, 2011, "a respiratory ailment." Self-proclaimed "King of
Nostalgia" and "Vicar of Vintage Vinyl," Stiles hosted radio shows in the New York area
for more than six decades and had a personal collection of about 200,000 recordings.
Henry Jerome, 93, d.Mar. 23, 2011. Trumpeter-bandleader ("Brazen Brass"; "Memories of
Hal Kemp" LP).
Orrin Keepnews, b.Mar. 2, 1923. Writer (A Pictorial History of Jazz: People and Places
From New Orleans to Modern Jazz) and record producer.
Rocky Rockwell, b.Mar. 2, 1923. Trumpeter - vocalist with Welk '51-'62.
Harry Prime, b.Mar. 5, 1920. Vocalist with Brooks '47; Fina '47; T. Dorsey '47; Flanagan
Dick Hyman, b.Mar. 8, 1927. Pianist with Goodman '50 / '55 / '85-'86.
Keely Smith, b.Mar. 9, 1932. Vocalist with Prima '49-'61.
Donn Trenner, b.Mar. 10, 1927. Pianist with Fio Rito '43-'45; Morrow '47?; Brown '54-'56 /
Quincy Jones, b.Mar. 14, 1933. Trumpeter with Hampton '51-'53 and Gillespie '56; and
composer (Basie '58 Rat Race / The Midnight Sun Never Sets / Meet B.B.).
George Avakian, b.Mar. 15, 1919. Record producer.
Bob Wilber, b.Mar. 15, 1928. Clarinetist - soprano sax with Hackett '57; Goodman '58.
Larry Elgart, b.Mar. 20, 1922. Saxophonist with Byrne and brother Les Elgart; and
bandleader with Les and on his own.
Bill Hughes, b.Mar. 28, 1930. Trombonist with Basie '54-'57 / '63-'84 and leader of the
Basie Orch. '03-'10.
New In-Print and / or Online
Brian Belton. "B.B.'s Big Band Beat: Brian Belton takes a look at the big band scene,"
In Tune International, No.228 / Mar. 2011, p.34. Reviews recent CDs of Heath, Anthony,
and T. Dorsey.
Joe Carlton. "What took 'In The Mood' So Long?," The Great Escape! / dixieswing.com,
Issue No.23 Mar./Apr. 2011, p.1. Carlton traces the history of In the Mood.
Graham Dixon. "In the limelight-Glen [ sic ] Miller Orchestra," mywestTexas.com, Mar. 1,
2011. Dixon saw the band last month in Midland, TX and, acccording to him, Valerie
Duke, the female vocalist, "is far more polished and true to the Glenn Miller sound than
the previous singer."
Owen Edwards. "Gene Krupa: a Drummer with Star Power," Smithsonian Magazine,
Mar. 2011. A set of drums used by Krupa and traded in for a new set of Slingerland
drums at a Maryland music store was purchased in 1940 by Donald Hay, who died at
age 89 in September 2009. His children donated the drums to the Smithsonian.
Brian Harker. Oxford Studies in Recorded Jazz: Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven
Recordings (New York City: Oxford University Press, 2010). 208-page book.
Lorna Hughes. "Port Sunlight players to present world premiere of Glenn Miller musical
The Bugle Boy," [ UK ] Wirral News, Mar. 9, 2011. "A version of The Bugle Boy was
originally staged in Virginia, USA and later on Broadway in 2004. But playwright Den
Stevenson has since made major changes and, after returning to the UK, sought out an
amateur company to premiere the finished production. An 18-piece orchestra will
accompany the performance."
George Hulme. "Benny Goodman: 'Variety Artist' in London July 1949," The IAJRC
Journal, Vol. 44, No. 1 - Mar. 2011, pp.17-18. Coverage from Melody Maker and
Bob Knack. "They Were Selling Memories," The Great Escape! / dixieswing.com, Issue
No.23 Mar./Apr. 2011, p.2. Knack follows up on the auction of 8000 LPs and 500 CDs
which belonged to radio disc jockey Dick Buckley and the auction of mementos from
the Pump Room of the Ambassador Hotel in Chicago.
Laura Souto Laramee. "Frank Sinatra Jr. turns back clock to Big Band Era," Palm Beach
[ FL ] Post, Mar. 4, 2011. Sinatra Jr. performed with a 20-piece big band at Hard Rock
Live in Hollywood, FL. Besides some of his father's songs, he sang That Face, Love
Around the Corner, and Friend Like Me (from "Aladdin").
Bob Longbein. "Big Band Beat: 1944: It was A Very Good Year," The Great Escape! /
dixieswing.com, Issue No.23 Mar./Apr. 2011, p.4. Longbein recalls some of the top
tunes of 1944.
Dick Raichelson. "The Boys in the Band: Dr. Ian Crosbie's sidemen correspondence,"
The IAJRC Journal, Vol. 44, No. 1 - Mar. 2011, pp.19-20. Letter from alto saxophonist
Clint Neagley, who worked with Krupa '39-'41 and Goodman '41-'42 / '42-'43.
Robert W. Rice. "Stateside with Robert W. Rice," In Tune International, No.228 / Mar. 2011,
p.15+. Praises Gordon Anderson, former coordinator of the Collectors' Choice catalog
division and details the Mosaic boxed set of Jimmie Lunceford's Decca recordings now in
Brick Wahl. "Brick's Picks: Gerald Wilson Lives Up to the Hype ... and Then Some," L.A.
Weekly, Mar. 10, 2011. Wahl marvels at Wilson, a trumpeter with Lunceford '39-'42,
and now age 92.
Geoffrey Wheeler. "Artie Shaw Meets Burns & Allen," The IAJRC Journal, Vol. 44, No. 1 -
Mar. 2011, pp.35-36. Details songs performed by Shaw as well as ones on which his
band backed The Smoothies vocal group.
Bert Whyatt. "Eddie Condon's Floor Show," The IAJRC Journal, Vol. 44, No. 1 - Mar. 2011,
pp.24-30. Includes program details involving Butterfield, Krupa, Hackett, Pastor,
McKinley, Armstrong, Teagarden, Hines, Rich, Barnet, Basie, Eckstine, Slack,
Eldridge, Williams, Herman, Spanier, Bradley, Ventura, Norvo, and others.
In the Mod
The official publication of The Glenn Miller Society, the Moonlight Serenader, will soon be undergoing a change. For the first time ever, starting with the next issue, Number 330, due out shortly, it will be produced on a modern Dell laptop computer and printer.
Congratulations to the Editor of the Moonlight Serenader, Roly Taylor, who has been doing that job since 1956!
Two full-length books about swing legends are on their way for later this year.
Likely first up will be What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years by Ricky Riccardi, to be published by Pantheon.
Later will come Bunny Berigan: Mr. Trumpet by Michael P. Zirpolo, to be published by Scarecrow Press in its "Studies in Jazz" series.
Each is expected to be over 300 pages long.