MILLER, Glenn: Community Swing

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Early Original Recordings 1937-1938

Glenn Miller is most famous for the music he recorded on the Bluebird/RCA Victor label from September 1938 to July 1942. The music heard on this CD is from Glenn Miller’s early days as a bandleader. The famous reed sound is not evident here. Instead, the six sides cut for Decca and the fourteen sides cut for Brunswick represent some experimentation by Miller and his arrangers in the reed ensemble combinations.

In March 1937 Rockwell-O’Keefe, who was booking the band, arranged a recording session at Decca. Author George Simon played drums and recalled that "it was a session I’ll never forget. I was so nervous that I couldn’t control my hands, and they trembled so that I found it almost impossible not to play triplets instead of single strokes."1 He remembered that instead of doing the usual four sides Glenn made six sides in three hours. All the arrangements were Glenn’s except for I’m Sitting On Top Of The World which was arranged by Hal McIntyre.

Peg O’ My Heart was the only instrumental recorded at this session. It features Carl Biesecker on tenor sax and Hal McIntyre on clarinet. George Simon wrote (under the alias of Gordon Wright) in the August 1937 issue of The Metronome, "Heart, in which the brass section emits some stupendous inflections, is Miller scoring at its prettiest."2 Wistful and Blue features a vocal by Doris Kerr who was relatively unknown at that time. According to Simon, Glenn hired her because she was the daughter of "an important NBC executive".1 Biesecker plays the tenor sax. How Am I To Know? includes another vocal by Doris Kerr and some fine Howard Smith piano behind the vocal. Sterling Bose does the vocal on Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere, backed by the Tune Twisters, a trio that included Jack Lathrop, who joined the band as guitarist in 1940. Bose also takes the trumpet solo. Moonlight Bay is sung by the entire band. Solos are by McIntyre on clarinet and Bose on trumpet. In the June 1937 issue of The Metronome, Simon stated, "In Bay note Bose’s trumpet passage, Dick McDonough’s guitar behind the chorus, and the cleverly-conceived Millerian figures."2 I’m Sitting On Top Of The World features two fine tenor solos by Jerry Jerome, with a clarinet solo by McIntyre heard in between Jerome’s two solos. Mannie Klein shines on the trumpet solo.

The next recording session occurred three months later on 9 June, 1937. This time the band recorded more up-to-date material for the Brunswick label. All the tunes were instrumentals. I Got Rhythm was a tune that Miller had played many times while a member of the pit orchestra of Girl Crazy. On this "Miller-arranged screamer"2 wrote Simon in the August 1937 issue of The Metronome, McIntyre solos on clarinet, followed by Jerome on tenor sax, Klein on trumpet and Eak Kenyon (not Simon as listed in all discographies as playing on two sessions) on drums. (Simon states in his book on Glenn Miller that he only made one recording session with Miller). Sleepy Time Gal, another Miller arrangement, features McIntyre on clarinet. Community Swing was reviewed by Paul Eduard Smith in the August 1937 issue of Down Beat: "Miller’s own tune, is a snappy arrangement, ensemble for the most part."3 Klein solos on trumpet, McIntyre on clarinet and Kenyon on drums. Time On My Hands features a muted trombone solo by Glenn. This one was arranged by Carl Biesecker.

On 29 November, 1937, the band returned to the Brunswick studios to record four more tunes. Some of the men who were to become stalwarts of Glenn’s 1939 band were already in place — Hal McIntyre, Chummy MacGregor and Rowland Bundock. My Fine Feathered Friend, arranged by Carl Biesecker, features a vocal by a new singer, Kathleen Lane. Simon felt that she "sang better than any girl singer Glenn ever had."1 Irving Fazola solos on clarinet and Jerome solos on tenor sax. Humoresque, arranged by George Siravo, has solos by Chummy MacGregor on piano, Bob Price on trumpet, Fazola on clarinet, Jerome on tenor sax and MacGregor again on piano. Doin’ The Jive was arranged by Glenn Miller. Simon’s March 1938 review of this record: "much swing, fun, and good Kitty Lane singing."2 There is also a vocal by the band and a smart dialogue between Glenn and Chummy. Solos are by Jerome on tenor sax and Fazola on clarinet. The final tune from this session is Silhouetted In The Moonlight. It was also arranged by Glenn, "has some beautiful five reed work, a fine Kitty Lane vocal, and some pretty Fazola sub-tone clarinet."2 wrote Simon in February 1938.

The band’s last recording session in 1937 occurred on 13 December at the Brunswick studios in New York City. They only recorded two tunes and it took five hours! Every Day’s A Holiday, arranged by Carl Biesecker, features a tenor solo by Jerome. On Sweet Stranger, arranged by Glenn Miller, Simon wrote in the February 1938 issue of The Metronome, "Kitty is again superb in Stranger, Fazola gets off well, and the five saxes are unusually effective."2 He later compared her singing on this tune to Mildred Bailey. Unfortunately for Glenn the band did not do well and on New Year’s Eve at the Valencia Ballroom in York, Pennsylvania, Glenn gave his men notice that the band would be folding on 2 January, 1938.

Glenn Miller formed a new band in early 1938. Tex Beneke, Ray Eberle and Wilbur Schwartz were key new members of this band. On 23 May, 1938 Glenn recorded four sides for Brunswick. Don’t Wake Up My Heart featured a very young Ray Eberle on vocal. Wilbur Schwartz solos on clarinet. Why’d Ya Make Me Fall In Love has a vocal by a new female vocalist, Gail Reese. Solos here are by MacGregor on piano and Tex Beneke on tenor sax. Sold American is a Glenn Miller original. (The origins of this tune may be heard in Ray Noble’s recording in 1936, arranged by Glenn Miller of course, of "Big Chief De Sota"). It was based on the chant featured on the Lucky Strike cigarette commercial. The last tune on this CD is Dipper Mouth Blues. Arranged by Glenn, it features a chant by the orchestra with solos by Schwartz on clarinet and Glenn on trombone.

Great things were just around the corner for Glenn Miller. In September 1938 the band began to record for Bluebird and the famous Miller reed sound was heard for the first time on record. But it wasn’t until the band went into the Glen Island Casino on 17 May, 1939, for an extended stay with radio air time that they became an "overnight" success.

John Flower

Author of Moonlight Serenade, A Bio-discography of the Glenn Miller Civilian Band

1 Quotes are from George Simon’s book, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra

2 Various quotes as noted from The Metronome magazine

3 One quote from Down Beat magazine

All personnel are from John Flower’s book, Moonlight Serenade


The Naxos Historical labels aim to make available the greatest recordings of the history of recorded music, in the best and truest sound that contemporary technology can provide. To achieve this aim, Naxos has engaged a number of respected restorers who have the dedication, skill and experience to produce restorations that have set new standards in the field of historical recordings.

David Lennick

As a producer of CD reissues, David Lennick’s work in this field grew directly from his own needs as a broadcaster specializing in vintage material and the need to make it listenable whi
Disc: 1
Dipper Mouth Blues
1 Peg O' My Heart
2 Wistful And Blue
3 How Am I To Know?
4 Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere
5 Moonlight Bay
6 I'm Sitting On Top Of The World
7 I Got Rhythm
8 Sleepy Time Gal
9 Community Swing
10 Time On My Hands
11 My Fine Feathered Friend
12 Humoresque
13 Doin' The Jive
14 Silhouetted In The Moonlight
15 Every Day's A Holiday
16 Sweet Stranger
17 Don't Wake Up My Heart
18 Why'd Ya Make Me Fall In Love
19 Sold American
20 Dipper Mouth Blues
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