Unmistakable swing sound 80 years later

11th October 2017 2:53 PM
SWING SOUNDS: The Glenn Miller Orchestra will tour Australia as part of its 80th anniversary celebrations. SWING SOUNDS: The Glenn Miller Orchestra will tour Australia as part of its 80th anniversary celebrations. NONI CARROLL

THE original Glenn Miller Orchestra was together for less than five years, but the sound lives on eight decades later.

In just four short but prolific years, Glenn Miller's unique swing sound generated a staggering 70 Top 10 singles and 22 No.1 records.

Carrying on Miller's legacy, the big band's modern orchestra incarnation is back in Australia for its fourth tour in six years to mark the band's 80th anniversary.

"We're in Australia on September 26, which marks exactly 75 years to the day the original Glenn Miller Orchestra played their final show in New Jersey,” artistic director Rick Gerber said.

"Here it is, 75 years later, and we're playing the same music to sold-out audiences.”

The 24-strong band was last in Australia to mark the Anzac Centenary, so this latest tour will be a return to its traditional swing set.

"The Swing Kittens are back, as are the Broadway Swing Dancers we contract out of Sydney,” Gerber said.

"We love the swing dancers. We just hit it off from the first five minutes.

"They add so much visual interest to the stage presentation, otherwise you would have a bunch of guys seated behind music stands.”

Rick Gerber is the musical director of The Glenn Miller Orchestra, which will tour Australia as part of its 80th anniversary celebrations. Supplied by Lionel Midford Publicity.
Rick Gerber is the musical director of The Glenn Miller Orchestra, which will tour Australia as part of its 80th anniversary celebrations. Supplied by Lionel Midford Publicity. Noni Carroll

Gerber, with the orchestra for 16 years, says one of the secrets to Miller's enduring popularity is his use of the reed section - namely, the clarinet and saxophone.

"Glenn had been experimenting with that sound as early as 1935 when he was hired by Ray Noble, a pop songwriter from London who came to the US,” he said.

"He wrote a few arrangements for the Ray Noble Band, but they didn't stir up much interest so he put it back in the filing cabinet.

"In the spring of 1938, he borrowed money from his in-laws and decided to try a whole new approach.

"When the famous clarinet lead and saxophone sound came out, it

made Glenn's band so distinctively different to any other band.

"In every music school and every university in the world, the serious music students are still studying and playing and performing the music of Mozart, Beethoven and Bach.

"But for popular

music, nothing tops the longevity of the Glenn Miller Band.”

The Glenn Miller Orchestra is playing at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre on Tuesday, October 17 at 7.30pm.

To purchase tickets go to www.moncrieff-bundaberg. com.au/theatre/glenn-miller -orchestra.