Mel Powell

Piano Forte

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In 1944, the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band was at its height, playing and broadcasting regularly from England. Drawing its personnel from the huge orchestra, pianist Mel Powell led his Uptown Hall Gang, a septet that performed advanced swing. This Swedish LP from 1985 has 16 performances by Powell's group taken from radio broadcasts. The music is so interesting that it compensates for the erratic recording quality. Powell is joined by trumpeter Bernie Privin, Peanuts Hucko on clarinet and tenor, guitarist Carmen Mastren, bassist Trigger Alpert, drummer Ray McKinley and a trombonist who may be Glenn Miller himself. Most of the selections (other than a couple originals) are swing standards, such as "Lady Be Good," "As Long As I Live" and "Blue Skies," but there is one major exception. The Dec. 9 broadcast has a surprising version of "A Night In Tunisia" which, if Miller is in the group, would be the only example of Glenn Miller playing Dizzy Gillespie.