This is the first volume in the Classics Glenn Miller chronology. It presents his earliest sessions as a leader, beginning with a very handsome session for Columbia that took place on April 25, 1935. The presence of trumpeter Bunny Berigan, clarinetist Johnny Mince, tenor saxophonist Eddie Miller, pianist Claude Thornhill, a well-behaved string quartet, and Miller's own buttery sounding trombone make this a surprisingly charming little date. The first two titles have vocals by Smith Ballew. "In a Little Spanish Town" and the excellent "Solo Hop" are swinging instrumentals propelled by drummer Ray Bauduc; these very danceable stomps clearly prefigure Glenn Miller's later achievements as a successful purveyor of big-band swing music. The second date in Miller's complete chronological recordings took place on March 22, 1937. Recorded for the Decca label, these tracks have all the qualities that would distinguish Glenn Miller's band during its wartime heyday. Without downplaying vocalists Doris Kerr, Jack Lathrop, and the Tune Twisters, let it be said that the instrumentals "Peg O' My Heart" and "I'm Sitting on Top of the World" are the cream of the crop. Miller's tenure with Brunswick records began on June 9, 1937 with four more exceptionally fine instrumental dance numbers. Over the next 11 months, Miller would feature a steady stream of good vocalists (Kathleen Lane, Gail Reese, and Ray Eberle) while fortifying the band with outstanding musicians like Dick McDonough, Charlie Spivak, Sterling Bose, Pee Wee Erwin, Hal McIntyre, Irving Fazola, and Tex Beneke. Even as Glenn Miller's later recordings seem always to attract more attention, these early sides illustrate what a solid leader, arranger, and soloist he was fairly early on in the game, before he became one of the most popular bandleaders in the country.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf