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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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GLENN MILLER ORCHESTRA

Plays the Music of Vincent Youmans
& Hoagy Carmichael

Sounds of Yester Year DSOY 836

 

 


1. Star Dust
2. Ooh! What You Said
3. Blue Orchids
4. The Rhumba Jumps
5. The Nearness of You
6. Rockin' Chair
7. Georgia on My Mind
8. The Lamplighter's Serenade
9. Skylark
10. Blue Orchids
11. Star Dust
12. Blue Orchids
13. Riverboat Shuffle
14. Lazy Bones
15. Lazy River
16. Time on My Hands
17. I Know That You Know
18. I Want To Be Happy
19. Hallelujah
20. I Want To Be Happy
21. Great Day
22. More Than You Know
23. The Carioca
24. Hallelujah
25. Without a Song
26. Time on My Hands

 

There are more Glenn Miller Orchestras around now than there were when Glenn was alive. Although his bands only gained popularity between 1939 and 1944, when he disappeared mysteriously, the Miller sound has continued to appeal to audiences up to the present day. Although he played jazz with some groups during his career, his own orchestras were predominantly dance bands, playing in a style which might be described as "easy listening". In fact his music was very easy to listen to, being orchestrated to emphasise mellowness. Indeed, such tracks as Blue Orchids (the second of three versions of the song on this CD) have lush strings accompanying the vocals.

This album collects recordings by as many as four versions of the Glenn Miller Orchestra: his original band from 1940 to 1942; the Army Air Forces Band which he led in 1943; the American Band of the AEF, which Miller led in 1944; and Tex Beneke leading the band between 1946 and 1950. The CD ends with a recording made by the Norman Leyden Orchestra which included several members of the AEF Band. All the music consists of compositions by Hoagy Carmichael (tracks 1 to 15) and Vincent Youmans (tracks 16 to 26), so it includes Carmichael favourites like Star Dust and Skylark, and two versions of Youmans' Time on My Hands.

As I suggested, jazz fans may find much of the material too soupy for their tastes, but there are some swinging moments. For example, I Know That You Know and I Want To Be Happy both include hot solos from trumpet and tenor sax. The latter was recorded at New York's Glen Island Casino in 1939, proving that the band could swing for the jitterbugs in the audience. Tracks 19 and 20 are by the Tail End Charlies, a quartet from within the band which included pianist Mel Powell and drummer Ray McKinley, who manage to swing furiously despite the occasional backing by strings.

So, although jazz fans may only find interest in some tracks on this CD, its mellow as well as swinging music helps to explain why the Miller sound has continued in popularity for so long.

Tony Augarde

www.augardebooks.co.uk



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