The English Flyright/Jazz Band label specializes in rare broadcasts and public performance recordings dating from the late 1930s to the early '70s. This particular disc focuses upon two chapters in the saga of Tex Beneke, lifelong torchbearer of the Glenn Miller legacy. By 1960 Beneke had been operating without any official ties to Miller's estate for ten years; during the '50s he had established a pattern of regular gigs and Glenn Miller reunion projects that would continue well into the '90s. Not surprisingly, Beneke followed in Miller's footsteps by maintaining good working relations with the United States Armed Forces. The 15-minute 1960 Stars for Defense Show found Beneke backed by a big band under the leadership of East Coast radio and television musical director Ray Block. While much of the material squeezed into this brief broadcast is directly tied to the Glenn Miller big-band swing tradition, the excellent instrumental "Ray's Theme" is modern mainstream jazz, sounding like something cooked up by Buck Clayton. In 1964 Tex Beneke, Ray Eberle and the Modernaires were touring their "Music Made Famous by Glenn Miller" show when the opportunity arose to participate in a couple of Live Guard sessions in support of the Air National Guard. In between old favorites and a couple of contemporary hits like Henry Mancini's "Mr. Lucky" and "Tonight" from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, Tex and the emcee exchange memories of Glenn Miller and friendly hyperbole on the reassuring topic of airborne national security. Taped for re-broadcast, this show was very deliberately staged as an informal session with lots of references to rolling tape, intercom interjections from the recording engineer and convivial merriment among bandmembers.
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