MILLER, Glenn: Glen Island Special

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Glen Island Special: The Great Instrumentals

Original Recordings 1938-1942

\Glenn Miller's orchestra is generally considered to havebeen the most popular organization in the history of dance bands," wrote GeorgeSimon, author and former editor of Metronome magazine.   From the time the band opened atthe Glen Island Casino in the Spring of 1939 till the time it was disbanded inSeptember 1942 when Glenn accepted a commission in the Army, there were fewbands that could rival its success.

But success did not come immediately to Glenn Miller.  His first band, formed in March 1937,failed and was disbanded in January 1938. Miller started a new band in March 1938.  It wasn't until the band's  lengthy engagement at the Glen Island Casino in NewRochelle, New  York, from 17 May1939 to 23 August 1939, that he became well known.  Numerous coast-to-coast radio broadcasts over the NBC andMutual networks and the enthusiastic response of the dancers, guaranteed theband's success. 

The nineteen instrumentals contained in this CD are goodexamples of the Miller band's ability to play swing and dance music.   

In The Mood became Glenn Miller's biggest instrumentalhit.  This recording illustratesMiller's uncanny ability to edit an arrangement.  Composer Joe Garland had originally presented thearrangement to Artie Shaw but Shaw never recorded it because it ran longer thanthe allowable three minutes and twenty seconds' maximum time on a 78 rpmrecord.  Miller was able tocondense it down to a tight, swinging instrumental, adding a closing riff withrepeated fadeouts until the band explodes into the rousing finale.  The famous tenor sax battle isbetween  Tex Beneke and Al Klinkand this is followed by a trumpet solo by Clyde Hurley. 

Sunrise Serenade is a perfect example of the band'sdistinctive clarinet lead reed sound. It features Tex Beneke on tenor sax.     

By The Waters of Minnetonka is from Miller's first recordingsession for RCA Victor on the Bluebird label.  Originally recorded as a two-sided 78 rpm 10˝ disc, itis now heard here as a continuous number. Arranged by Glenn Miller, it features Beneke on tenor sax and clarinet,Miller on trombone, Johnny Austin on trumpet and Bill Stegmeyer on alto sax.

Little Brown Jug, arranged by Bill Finegan, was the band'sfirst big hit.  Beneke, Hurley andMiller take the swinging solos.

Pavanne is an interesting arrangement by Finegan.  Solos are by Beneke on sax and  Miller on muted trombone.    

Eddie Durham not only arranged for Count Basie but  also did a number of arrangements forthe Miller band including Glen Island Special which was dedicated to the GlenIsland Casino.  On this swingingarrangement, Hurley is featured on trumpet, followed by Beneke on tenor sax.The second tenor sax solo is by Al Klink.

My Isle of Golden Dreams features a beautiful Beneke tenorsax solo.  About halfway throughthis Finegan arrangement there is a tempo change that must have confused manydancers at the time. 

I Want To Be Happy, another swing arrangement by Durham,spots solos by Hurley, Beneke, Miller and Maurice Purtill on drums.

Johnson Rag starts with one of those slow build-ups andafter a number of solos culminates in a rousing finish which was a typicalMiller swing device.  Beneke takesthe first eight bars of tenor followed by Klink.  Miller plays the trombone break and  then Hurley is heard on trumpet.  Arrangement is by Finegan.

By the beginning of 1940 a new arranger had joined theMiller band.  Jerry Gray came tothe band after Artie Shaw disbanded in late 1939.  Tuxedo Junction was arranged by Gray.  According to George Simon, it sold115,000 copies in the first week. Mickey McMickle plays the opening muted trumpet solo, followed by Hurleysoloing on open trumpet and then McMickle is heard again.  Note that this is take 1 and mostreissues have been from take 2.

The Miller band opened at the Hotel Pennsylvania in January1940 and remained there for three months. Pennsylvania 6-5000, arranged by Gray, was the telephone number at theHotel Pennsylvania.  It remains thetelephone number to this day even though the name of the hotel haschanged.  Trumpet solo is by JohnnyBest with tenor sax solo by Beneke.   

In 1941 there was a ban on playing ASCAP music on the radionetworks.  Miller and otherbandleaders turned to recording BMI and public-domain tunes.  Song of the Volga Boatmen is a Russianfolk song.  This outstandingarrangement is by Finegan.  Millercomments extensively on the making of this rhythmic arrangement in his bookGlenn Miller's Method For Orchestral Arranging.  He states that the tune begins with three separate themes -first by the rhythm section, followed by the four trombones and then a muted trumpet solo by Billy May.  Ernie Caceres solos on alto sax.  After the diminishing drum break byPurtill, the four trombones begin a passage followed by four unison trumpets ina short fugato which leads into the backtime rhythm of handclaps.

The original 78 of Anvil Chorus was a two-sided 10˝disc.  According to Down Beatmagazine, it took "three previous attempts which left him dissatisfied" beforeMiller finally got what he wanted on record.  Arranged by Gray, the issued version shows greatexecution.  Purtill is featuredalong with Beneke and May.  Sidetwo started right after Purtill's drum break.  Ernie Caceres plays the gutsy clarinet solo.  Take 2 (from side two) has been issuedhere and the major difference between Take 1 and Take 2 is a slight mistake bythe trumpet near the end of the tune. It is interesting to note that Take 2 was only issued on CanadianBluebird.

Adios, arranged by Gray, features a pretty muted trumpetsolo by McMickle, lots of ooh-wahs by the brass, a muted trombone solo byMiller, more muted McMickle with bass notes plucked at the end by Doc Goldberg.

Bobby Hackett joined the band as guitarist in July1941.  "When Glenn hired me Iwasn't playing cornet.  I'd justhad some dental surgery, so I couldn't blow my horn," recalled Hackett.  As soon as his gums healed Glenn beganfeaturing Hackett on cornet solos. A String of Pearls, one of Jerry Gray's finest compositions and arrangements,is a good example of Hackett's work.   The recording starts out with an alto sax solo byCaceres and then two-bar alto sax exchanges between Caceres and Beneke (Tex wasplaying lead alto at this time after McIntyre left the band), followed by anotherchallenge on tenors between Klink and Babe Russin in that order.  Next is Bobby Hackett's famous cornetsolo.  His innovative twelve barsolo added a great deal to the success of the recording. 

American Patrol was arranged by Gray.  He interpolated Columbia the Gem of theOcean and Yankee Doodle Dandy into the arrangement and changed this march intoa swing number which features Purtill and May.  It contains Miller's favorite trick of fading way down justbefore the ending and going out with a swinging finish.

Disc: 1
Here We Go Again
1 In The Mood
2 Sunrise Serenade
3 By the Waters of Minnetonka - Parts 1 & 2
4 Little Brown Jug
5 Pavanne
6 Glen Island Special
7 My Isle of Golden Dreams
8 I Want to Be Happy
9 Johnson Rag
10 Tuxedo Junction
11 Pennsylvania 6-5000
12 Song of the Volga Boatmen (arr. B. Finegan)
13 Anvil Chorus (arr. J. Gray)
14 Adios
15 A String of Pearls
16 American Patrol (arr. J. Gray)
17 Sleepy Town Train
18 Rhapsody in Blue
19 Here We Go Again
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