Personalities | Glenn Miller | Forties | Jazz & Blues

(Trombone, 1904–44)

Glenn Miller was a trombonist of modest accomplishments, but he became one of the most famous big-band leaders in jazz. Although disdained by jazz purists, tunes such as ‘In The Mood’, ‘Moonlight Serenade’, ‘String Of Pearls’ and ‘Tuxedo Junction’ have remained enduringly popular. Miller’s bands played precisely executed riff-based swing tunes and very slow ballads; his signature sound was built on a lead clarinet melody doubled an octave below by tenor saxophone, with the other saxophones, muted trumpets, and trombones all adding soft-focus colour and harmony.

Miller favoured solid, well-disciplined players who could deliver the exact sound that he required on the arrangements, rather than flamboyant jazz soloists. His catchy melodies, intricate but easy-on-the-ear harmonies and swinging rhythms caught the public imagination; his disappearance in a light aircraft over the English Channel en route to a concert scheduled for his Allied Expeditionary Force Orchestra only added to the mystique.

Styles & Forms | Forties | Jazz & Blues
Personalities | Roy Milton | Forties | Jazz & Blues

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


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