Platinum Glenn Miller

by: Glenn Miller

After a long period of neglect, in 2001 RCA began doing right by Glenn Miller (via its rejuvenated jazz and swing arm Bluebird) with a four-disc set of 1943-44 performances by Glenn Miller & the Army Air Force Band. The 2002 compilation America's Bandleader was short and idiosyncratic but the following year, Platinum Glenn Miller offered the perfect summation of the war era's number one bandleader. With 40 tracks spread over two CDs, it's slightly shorter than 1995's The Essential Glenn Miller, but excellent sound and thoughtful compiling make up for any shortcomings. The Miller Orchestra was a perennial on the charts from 1939 until 1943, not only soundtracking the war years but exerting a sizable influence on pop music until the '50s via its heavy reed sound, feature soloists like Bobby Hackett and Tex Beneke, and the arrangements of Bill Finegan and Jerry Gray. They were bright and bouncy (as on "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," "[I've Got a Gal In] Kalamazoo," "Pennsylvania 6-5000"), or calm and reflective ("Stairway to the Stars," "In the Mood," "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square"), and always clear, melodic, and unabashedly emotional (none of which made them any friends with jazz crowds). Yes, the mellow Miller did have plenty to offer his pop audience, but as Platinum Glenn Miller illustrates, his was one of the most talented groups of the '40s. ~ John Bush

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