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Glenn Miller
Purchase Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
by George T. Simon who followed the band closely during their whirl up the charts and their heyday.

Like Goodman and Tommy Dorsey, Miller was another tough taskmaster.

 

On occasion, I get emails asking how the big bands came about and what caused them to fade from prominence. This is a difficult question to answer but for those of you poor students who've got a report to write in the next couple of hours, I'm posting this really, really brief explanation of the rise and fall of the big bands.

Jazz music sprung out of Dixieland music which sprung out of Ragtime which likely originated in New Orleans. These club musicians eventually migrated to Chicago and New York. As this style gained popularity, bandleaders like Paul Whiteman and Vincent Lopez (around 1916) took elements of jazz and combined it with the "sweet sounds" they observed people liked to dance to. They also began upping the ante by increasing the size of their outfits (BIG-bands) until they were considered orchestras. In the 20's, a new medium called radio brought these bands a broader audience than strictly performing on the road could possibly do.

Swing music had been brewing for awhile in the clubs but it was Benny Goodman's Palomar Ballroom appearance in 1935 that made swing music burst into wide acceptance, especially with the kids. The most popular big bands played a combination of swing (to show off their ability) and ballads (in order to sell records and get radio airplay). The most popular bandleaders were Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw (another clarinetist), Tommy Dorsey (with singer Sinatra), older brother Jimmy Dorsey, former Goodman sideman Harry James and likely the most enduring and famous of them all, Glenn Miller. If you're new to the music of the big bands, it's likely Glenn Miller is the one you've already heard. Some bandleaders like Sammy Kaye and Guy Lombardo made a good living playing strictly "sweet" music and stayed away from swing for the most part.

As World War II came about, the big bands reached their apex in popularity. It was unpleasant times and the mood of the country turned to sentimental sounds. As popular as these bands were on radio and records, there began to be a severe shortage of able musicians as most males were being drawn into the armed forces. Only the most established leaders could afford to hire the remaining top players. In 1942, James Petrillo, the leader of the American Federation of Musicians, ordered a ban on musician's recording new material which lasted until 1944. Singers with choral arrangements were not affected by the ban, which further outdistanced them from the big bands they were once a part of. With the end of the war came the big band's decline. Returning soldiers (musicians) had little interest in hitting the road again as traveling musicians. And of course, the final blow for these huge performing acts was the advent of television. There was little need to leave the house for an evening of entertainment. For those who did venture out into the smaller night clubs, they were more likely to find a more compact and economical jazz quartet or witness the emergence of bebop.

 

THE REVIEWS
Andrews Sisters - Latin Quarter 1957
Desi Arnaz - w/Diosa Costello 1948
Count Basie - Lincoln 1943
Tony Bennett - Copacabana 1958
Milton Berle - Latin Quarter 1948
Joey Bishop - w/Andy Williams 1959
Ray Bolger - Wizard of Oz Scarecrow, Empire Room 1956
Cab Calloway - Greenwich Inn 1949
Diahann Carroll - Persian Room 1961
Betty Clooney - Waldorf Astoria 1954
Nat King Cole - Copacabana 1958
Perry Como - Versailles 1944
Copacabana - famous night club restaurant is reviewed 1953
Crosby Brothers - Latin Quarter 1961
Xavier Cugat - Waldorf Astoria 1951
Vic Damone - Riviera 1953
Billy Daniels - Copacabana 1952
Sammy Davis Jr. - Copacabana 1959
Phyllis Diller - w/Bobby Short 1958
Nancy Donovan - Copacabana 1952
Jimmy Durante - Copacabana 1951
Billy Eckstine - Copacabana 1951
Duke Ellington - Basin St. East 1961
Eddie Fisher - Empire Room 1959
Judy Garland -Town & Country 1958
Jackie Gleason - La Vie en Rose 1953
Benny Goodman - Empire Room 1956
Dolores Gray - Waldorf Astoria 1954
Buddy Hackett - Copacabana 1956
Connie Haines - Terrace Room 1951
Dick Haymes - Versailles 1956
Horace Heidt - 30th Anniversary 1954
Florence Henderson w/Bill Hayes 1958
Hildegarde - Pierre 1953
Celeste Holm - Plaza 1958
Eddy Howard - Roosevelt 1955
Burl Ives w/Wally Cox - Persian Room
Lisa Kirk - Persion Room 1958
Frankie Laine - Latin Quarter 1955
Julius La Rosa - Romanian 1958
Peggy Lee - Copacabana 1958
Jerry Lewis - Town & Country 1957
Joe E. Lewis - Copacabana 1945
Ted Lewis - Latin Quarter 1953
Liberace - Persian Room 1947
Guy Lombardo - Roosevelt 1957
Vincent Lopez - Grill Room 1954
Tony Martin - Riviera 1953
Martin and Lewis - Copacabana 1950
Ray McKinley - Glenn Miller Band 1957
Mills Brothers - Latin Quarter 1956
Vaughn Monroe - Astor 1955
Constance Moore - St. Regis 1958
Johnnie Ray - Copacabana 1953
Della Reese - Copacabana 1961
Sugar Ray Robinson - French Casino
Dorothy Shay - St. Regis 1961
Frank Sinatra - Wedgewood 1943
Danny Thomas - Copacabana 1949
Sophie Tucker - Latin Quarter 1950
Mae West - Latin Quarter 1956
Julie Wilson - Persian Room 1954
EDITORIALS
Dean Martin - thoughts on Mr. Sauve
Peter Lawford - retrospective
Rise & Fall of the big bands
INTERVIEWS
K Baggelaar- Copacabana author
Denny Farrell - big band disc jockey
Hal Turner - Performer/Conductor
B Zickafoose - played in WWII Europe
ASSORTED
Bernie Bierman bio
Sammy Kaye - Roosevelt 1957
Dinah Shore - press release and autograph from the 50's
A Letter about a WWII song
Harbers & Dale - Dance Team
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