1946 Live in Hi-Fi at the Hollywood Palladium features some fine broadcast remotes from the post-war Glenn Miller Orchestra when it was being fronted by Tex Beneke. Tex was not the first leader to pilot the Miller organization after the major disappeared forever over the English Channel; Jerry Gray performed the unenviable task of filling the big man's shoes in Miller's AEF Band while it was still overseas. When Gray obtained his honorary discharge in November 1945 he decided to take a well-deserved break from the strain of being Glenn Miller's stand-in. Miller's widow, Helen, contacted Beneke, himself only recently discharged from a stint leading a Navy dance band at the unlikely location of Norman, OK, and asked him to take up the job of leading a new Miller "civilian" orchestra.
Beneke was an interesting choice; Miller himself had fired him from the civilian orchestra on July 12, 1942. But of all the star soloists and singers who'd appeared with Miller over the years, it was clear that Beneke was the one the public recognized and cherished the most. So in January 1946, the new Glenn Miller Orchestra opened with Beneke at its head, and he would stay in this job through the end of 1949 when he finally decided he was fed up with the Miller Orchestra's management and their policy not to update or change anything about the band's sound.
The Hollywood Palladium was one of the Beneke-Miller band's friendliest venues; they first played there on September 5, 1946. In what may have been the last blast of the big-band era, a December 1947 Beneke-Miller show at the Palladium drew a record crowd of more than 6,000 souls. Many of Beneke's appearances with the new Glenn Miller Orchestras of the late '40s were broadcast as remotes on the CBS network. These broadcasts have never been properly accounted for or identified, but they seem to survive in great numbers, and have been parceled out in bits and pieces over the years on LPs and through dissemination on tapes in the Old Time Radio underground.
This disc claims to represent "the band's first engagement at the Hollywood Palladium in 1946," but it is obviously drawn from at least six or seven remotes, and it is impossible to tell if they are all from the Hollywood Palladium or even all from the year 1946. If some are, then the pianist in the band was 22-year-old Henry Mancini, although the only evidence of his presence is a little piano tinkling heard here and there in quiet passages. Nonetheless this is a choice selection of Beneke-Miller goodies, most played with real verve and fire with only a couple of exceptions, for example a tentative reading of "Tuxedo Junction." Standout tracks include great, swinging performances of "St. Louis Blues March" and rarities such as "Jeep Jockey Jump" and "Troop Movement."
The broadcasts used here probably are pretty early due to the heavy reliance on numbers written for the band's book by Jerry Gray. "Meadowlands" is identical to the piece recorded as "Russian Patrol" on the last-known broadcast done by the Miller AEF Band during Miller's own lifetime, on that occasion led by Gray. The sound here varies from source to source, but generally is very good for broadcasts of the period, though not quite "Hi-Fi" as promised on the front cover. There are little bits and pieces missing here and there from certain tracks, perhaps due to imperfections in the sources, but just as likely the result of over-eager "tic" removal. The whole ending of "Falling Leaves" is swallowed up for some reason. About a minute's worth of "Moonlight Serenade" is heard at the end of the disc, but mention of it appears nowhere in the notes. Despite these admittedly minor complaints, 1946 Live in Hi-Fi at the Hollywood Palladium is well worth seeking out, and is a pleasing general representation of the live sound of the immediate post-war Glenn Miller band.