Joe Garland, the composer of "In the Mood," never became famous himself but was an important force in jazz behind the scenes. A fine reed player who in his career was heard on tenor, baritone, and bass saxophones in addition to clarinet, Garland was also a talented arranger-composer. He began playing while living in North Carolina and he studied music at the Aeolian Conservatory in Baltimore and at Shaw University. Garland played classical music until 1924 when he joined Graham Jackson's Seminole Syncopators, with whom he made his recording debut. Other associations in the '20s included Elmer Snowden (1925), Joe Steele, Henri Saporo, Leon Abbey (with whom he toured South America), Charlie Skeete, Jelly Roll Morton (he appeared on some of Jelly Roll's records), Steele again, and Bobby Neal (1931). Garland made a strong impression as both a reliable section player and a chief arranger with the Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1932-1936, including the period when it was taken over by Lucky Millinder) and followed that up with stints with Edgar Hayes (1937), Don Redman (1938), and Louis Armstrong (1939-1942), serving as Armstrong's musical director. Garland freelanced for a time, played with Claude Hopkins, and was back with Louis Armstrong's final big band (1945-1947). Later jobs included the orchestras of Herbie Fields, Hopkins, and Earl Hines (1948). Joe Garland became a part-time music in the '50s, occasionally leading both a small and a big band. Few probably realize that his compositions included hits for Glenn Miller ("In the Mood") and Les Brown ("Leap Frog").
Joe Garland Biography
by Scott Yanow