Gordon 'Tex' Beneke, an amiable Texan with a drawling voice, was born on February 12th 1914 at Fort Worth. At the age of nine, he took up the saxophone playing first soprano, then alto and eventually tenor sax for which he would become famous. Glenn Miller hired him in 1938. It is noticeable that Beneke's playing was prominently jazz-flavoured on such early Miller hits as 'In the Mood', 'Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree', and 'String of Pearls'. He also doubled as vocalist in duet with Marion Hutton and as a member of the Modernaires, participating in such hits as 'Chattanooga Choo Choo' and 'Kalamazoo'both featured on this album. His singing was featured in 20th Century Fox's Sun Valley Serenade.
With the disbanding of the Miller Orchestra in 1942 upon the entry of the US into World War II, Beneke toured with the Modernaires. After the war, with Miller's death accepted as fact, Beneke was invited by the Miller estate to front the reformed orchestra of his mentor (constrained, at first, by a distinctly Miller-esque repertoire and reed-orientated Miller sound). Many Beneke records of this period feature his vocals including 'Hey Ba-ba-Re-Bop', 'Five Minutes More', 'A Girl in Calico' from Warner Bros The Time, the Place and the Girl (1946) - all featured here. Another number from that film is also included (minus Tex's vocal) 'Oh, But I Do'. In 1947 with the Miller estate's blessing, Tex continued to direct the Miller band under his own name and continued to produce many fine hits in the Miller style(with and without his vocals) including: 'St Louis Blues March', 'You Don't need to Know the Language', 'At the Flying 'W'' and 'Cherokee Canyon'.
By the close of 1950, Beneke had relinquished his directorship of the Glenn Miller Orchestra severing his links with the Miller estate to form his own Miller-orientated band which continued to broadcast (despite dwindling interest in big-bands) up until the 1980s. Tex died in California aged 86 in 2000.
For all lovers of that wonderful Miller sound this is a must. Other evergreens include: 'Stormy Weather', 'Body and Soul', and 'Busy Signal'. The recordings date from 1941 to 1949. ****(*) Ian Lace