Monday, January 14, 2008

Music Review: Glen Miller

This is definitely music of another place and time. Not so much the sound, but the nature in which this music is made. There is a reason it is called big BAND. Sure, solos have their place, but it is within a context of a larger set of contributors to a greater whole. It is refreshingly contrary to today’s “me, me, more me” pap that makes most so-called music these days almost unbearable.

Presented are the soundtracks of two movies, for which neither I can comment beyond this, not having seen them. The first, “Sun Valley Serenade” takes the band to a lovely ski resort, with Sonja Henie playing a war refugee. The second, “Orchestra Wives” is a take on intra-band relationships at the start of US fighting in World War II. Each one features Glen Miller and crew, and also stars tap dance kings The Nicholas Brothers. I hope the brothers’ appearances (along with Dorothy Dandridge in the first) are not too stereotyped.

The music is a treasure. “Kiss Polka” is played in two forms, first in the driving, swinging theme song and then later in typical Myron Floren fashion (for those who grew up digging Lawrence Welk). Within the latter is the line that always offends my Swedish sensibilities (just kidding): “She’ll say ‘Ya, by yumpin yiminy!’” “In the Mood” never sounded better, with the drum shots that give me goosebumps. “Sun Valley Serenade” is a very guilty pleasure that is always in the top 10 of my big band favorites. “Bugle Call Rag” ranks even higher, with the most intelligent drum solo (yes, there is such a thing) I’ve ever heard. “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” and “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” are here in all their glory, the latter with the sweetest intro around.

I highly recommend this music in this format, if you can still find the CD.

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