Jerry Gray

Farewell Performances

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This CD is the missing link in the history of Glenn Miller's band and music. With Jerry Gray conducting, the Army Air Force Overseas Orchestra had to continue performing in the wake of Miller's death, and they followed his maxim of making every performance count. The 23 tracks here were drawn from airchecks of radio broadcasts during October and November of 1945, nearly a year after Miller's death, and they show a band that is as tight and hot as ever, stretching out a bit more perhaps in peacetime, than they did in wartime. These were effectively the military band's farewell performances -- although some of the men here would spend the next several decades playing this same repertory -- and they're swinging. Gray's "Sun Valley Jump" in particular is a delight, with superb solos and ensemble playing. All of the major hits are here as well, along with incidental pieces like the under-three-minute precis of "Rhapsody in Blue." Interestingly, "In the Mood" gets a faster, tighter treatment than the one we're accustomed to in more-standard Miller band performances, with a killer solo. Sgt. Johnny Desmond and the singing group the Crew Chiefs are also featured on four delightful novelty numbers ("Have You Got Any Gum, Chum?" etc.), and Desmond gets brilliant solo spots on "Homesick, That's All" and "Autumn Serenade." The other players featured include pianist Mel Powell, bassist Trigger Alpert, and trumpeter Bernie Privin, among numerous others. The between-song announcer added to the CD is obtrusive but at least the information he provides is useful. The sound is crytal clear, and beautifully textured.

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