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Glenn Miller: The Secret Broadcasts

Although it’s not unusual for record labels to apply some ballyhoo techniques to their promotional campaigns, it does seem especially misleading that RCA chose to cloak its most recent Glenn Miller release in a mantle of mystery. As a follow-up to the well-received British set, The Lost Recordings, The Secret Broadcasts offers a collection of 74 additional wartime transcriptions recorded between March and June 1944, and intended solely for broadcast to servicemen both here and abroad. What is particularly disturbing about the use of the words “lost” and “secret” is that this material has been in wide circulation for many decades, appearing not only on such independent labels as Nostalgia, Rarities, Hep, Magic, Soundcraft, Swing World, Jazz Hour, Big Band Gems, and Jazz Band, but on British and French RCA as well. Given the easy availability of relevant discographies there is simply no excuse for RCA’s deceptive choice of titles.

With authority granted him by the Army Air Force, Captain Miller was able to assemble the most qualified musicians in the service, thereby resulting in the formation of the best and most ambitious orchestra of his career. The men comprising the 17-piece, brass/reeds/rhythm core group and the supplementary 21-man string section were drawn from the leading big bands and symphony orchestras of the day, thus assuring a level of experience far beyond anything to be heard in the then draft-ravaged civilian world. Though jazz was never Miller’s major suit, he was smart enough to understand the tastes of his captive, homesick audience. Thus, wherever possible, he gave solo space to such hot jazzmen as trumpeters Bernie Privin, Bobby Nichols, and Zeke Zarchy, clarinetist Peanuts Hucko, altoman Hank Freeman, tenormen Vince Carbone and Jack Ferrier, and pianist Mel Powell, guitarist Carmen Mastren, bassist Trigger Alpert, and drummer Ray McKinley. While the majority of the arrangements are by Jerry Gray, there are also several choice contributions by Powell, Bill Finegan, and others.

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