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CD Review: The Essential Glenn Miller

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The Big Band Era was a period in music unlike any other that we have seen. And few performers of the era have shown lasting appeal the way that Glenn Miller has. In fact, it could easily be said that he defined the era like no other bandleader. Legacy Records new CD The Essential Glenn Miller just goes to prove what a tremendous influence Miller had on the music of his day.

Just like previous entries in Legacy’s Essentials series, this two disc collection captures the essence of Miller’s appeal. The 38 tracks contained in this collection include all of the bands best known hits such as “Moonlight Serenade”, “In the Mood”, “String of Pearls” and others. Also included are Miller’s takes on some familiar standards: “Blueberry Hill”. “At Last”, “When You Wish Upon a Star” and others.

A special bonus in this collection are eight tracks from Miller’s Army Air Force Band. When World War II broke out he stopped touring in 1942 to join the Army and assemble one of the most popular bands ever formed. He toured extensively entertaining troops until his plane disappeared in December 1944 while en route to France.

Listening to this collection makes it easier to understand why Miller and his band were so immensely popular. Their music continues to remain timeless. This collection is truly essential for anyone who loves jazz (and especially big band music).

Edit: LM

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  • nugget

    I’d say Benny Goodman and his Orchestra “defined” that time for America. Too bad we rarely hear of Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Chick Webb, or even Count Bassie’s orchestras. It’s all Glenn Miller on FM and XM radio.

  • Shark

    A few comments, opinions, and just for the record — maybe a bit of historical context:

    Benny Goodman got EVERYTHING he did from a somewhat overlooked African-American genius named FLETCHER HENDERSON. Benny’s arragements were all done by Henderson. Without him, Benny woulda been in trouble.

    As far as “defining America” during that era, I would nominate one of the greatest bands ever: Tommy Dorsey.

    Ask someone from that era, and that’s the name you’ll get about 90% of the time — sorta the “Greatest Generations'” Beatles…(?)

    That’s not to downplay the influence and talent of Glenn Miller, mind ya…

    best
    S

  • godoggo

    I’ve never listened to Miller, because I’ve never heard anything negative comments from musicians I respect. The consensus seems to be that they didn’t swing and didn’t improvise. Again, this isn’t my opinion; I don’t have one.

    I do have an opinion about Goodman; he was a brilliant clarinetists, with the tast and resources to to surround himself with the best musicians available. Certainly Henderson was crucial to the big band work, which I don’t care for; I find it cold and unswinging as a result of Goodman’s over-perfectionism as a leader. I prefer the sextet, one of the greatest small combos of the swing era, or any era.

    Dorsey – again not too familiar, heard some stuff with Sinatra that I didn’t care for. But I know the the man gets points for writing one of my favorite songs, “I’m Glad There is You.”

  • godoggo

    p.s. Of course Ellington and (early) Basie were the definitive big bands.

  • Randy Ranson

    It was as an arranger that Glenn Miller was made himself famous, he had an ear for an artistic smooth arrangement of the sound tracks of the day. Also, it should be noted he added a human touch to the bands presentation that resonated with the audience.