Thursday, 10 February 2011

Glenn Miller Up Town Hall Gang - Esquire Records Label ID. 302

Glenn Miller Up Town Hall Gang - Esquire Records Label ID. 302 - The Golden Years: 1938-1942 (4CD)

Vinyl Condition VG+ 

Description from the Sleeve

Glenn Miller's Uptown Hall Gang was a unit that was conceived born and grew to fame in war-time Britain.
Major Miller's American Band of The A.E.F. arrived here in July 1944 and they were faced with a schedule of concert appearances at American Bases and Radio Broadcasts that must have been a daunting prospect.
It was one thing to make the dates it was quite another to find enough music to fill the shows—especially the broadcasts on the BBC's A.E.F. network. So they hit upon the idea of breaking down the 42-piece concert orchestra into smaller units for which arrangements if necessary could be written more easily. Thus during any one week listeners could hear in addition to the full orchestra under Miller's direction programmes by The Dance Band led by Ray McKinley (The Swing Shift) The String Section led by George Ockner (Strings With Wings) Johnny Desmond with the Orchestra (A Soldier and a Song) and the Uptown Hall Gang presided over by Mel Powell—a pianist of the most supple brilliance.

The Unit varied in instrumentation from time to time—often it would include Addison Collins on French Horn as well as one of the trombone section probably Larry Hall and Bernie Privin trumpet but always in attendance to Powell were Peanuts Hucko on clarinet tenor and alto: Carmen Mastren guitar; Ray McKinley drums and either Trigger Alpert or Joe Shulman on bass. And many a highly entertaining quarter-hour was enjoyed by thousands upon thousands of radio fans that "the Gang" won. But regrettably not a single item that they broadcast on BBC Radio was ever made available as a commercial record—until the whole A.E.F. Orchestra sadly after the disappearance of Major Miller were transferred to the Continent and billeted in Paris.

Only then when they happily got together with the phenomenal Django Reinhardt whose genius was known to them all through his exciting years with The Quintet of the Hot Club of France was this joyful jazz unit at last committed to wax.

Although there are only four titles with Django—let's be thankful for small mercies. But above all it's the joie de vivre of the Uptown Hall Gang that is the most striking feature—added to no doubt by the return to life of a liberated Paris in the Spring of '45.

The happy easy jazz—and of course the quality of the musicians some of whom still ply their trade supremely well today. Bernie Privin for one Peanuts Hucko for two Ray McKinley very occasionally and Mel Powell who is now into more serious work— and is I believe enamoured with electronic music but as you'll hear there was nothing synthesized about him in 1945.

It was indeed fortunate that some small legacy of the fine Uptown Hall Gang was preserved and that it's all ours within the grooves of this album.


October 1976

Original recordings supervised by Yvonne Blanc Music selection for this re-issue by Peter Newbrook Re-mastered by John R. T. Davies

Photograph from the collection of the late Carlo Krahmer taken at the Feldman Club London in the winter of 1944 shows two-thirds of the Uptown Hall Gang sitting in with the regulars. From L to R Carmen Mastren Ray McKinley Peanuts Hucko and Mel Powell. In the background leader of the Feldman Club house band Carlo Krahmer and tenorist Jimmy Skidmore.

ID. 100061 - Glenn Miller Up Town Hall Gang - Esquire Records Label ID. 302

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