Glenn Miller became successful in 1939, after signing with RCA for a series of Bluebird releases, combined with a series of popular broadcasts and an engagement at the Glenn Island Casino in New Rochelle, New York. He reached celebrity with his “In The Mood” recording, and later became a social phenomenon, scoring sixteen number-one records and sixty-nine top ten hits – more than Elvis or the Beatles did in their whole career – in only a four years period.
Glenn Miller’s career didn’t start at RCA though. He groped for a while before finding what he was looking for.
Beside his numerous freelance jobs as trombonist, arranger and composer, Miller recorded under his own name for the first time for Columbia in 1935 with a pickup group. That recording session was a financial and artistic failure. By 1937 he had a permanent band (including Charlie Spivack, Jerry Jerome, among others) with wich he recorded for Decca in March, still unsuccessfully, mostly because he offered reworked versions of pop tunes of the earlier decades. He also had hard time distinguishing himself from the many swing bands of the time.
But the “Miller sound” eventualy slowly emerged later that year when he started recording for Brunswick.

For its first Brunswick session in June 1937, Miller sticked to a classic repertoire, recording already well known songs. Even if this version of “I Got Rhythm” sounds pretty good to me today, it didn’t help him reach a large audience at the time.
The track was first released in 1937 on Brunswick 7915, and on Vocalion in 1938.

Rec. 06/1937
Glenn Miller & his Orchestra “I Got Rhythm” (Mx B21234-3)

Unsuccessful once again, members left the band, changes were made. A new recording session occured nonetheless in November, from wich the following titles are taken. “Humoresque” offers original arrangments of a classical piece, something Miller will do several times throughout his carreer; “Doin’ The Jive” is one of his own compositions, leaving behind the popular songs he used to record until then.
Both titles were first releases as Brunswick 8062, then again in 1938 as flip sides to the May ’38 session recordings.

Rec. 11/1937
Glenn Miller & his Orchestra “Humoresque” (Mx B22080-1)
Rec. 11/1937
Glenn Miller & his Orchestra “Doin’ The Jive” (Mx B22081-1)

Another recording session happened in December where only two sides were recorded. Despite their qualities, these sides were released quietly only on Brunswick and Columbia while the previous recordings appeared also on Voclation, Okeh and Conqueror in the US, and Regal Zonophone in the UK.
Booking declined, Miller disbanded the band.

In 1938, an almost brand new orchestra was formed, Miller pushed his ambitions further and finally found the sound he was looking for with the five-man reed section, starting distinguishing himself from the other bands of the period.
The band filled a last session for Brunswick late May 1938 where he recorded four sides, including the following two, wich are some of my all-time Miller favorites, with some kind of spontaneity and freshness that a good part of his RCA recordings will lack.
“Sold American” is a song of his own that he will record again for RCA in 1939.

Rec. 04/1938
Glenn Miller & his Orchestra “Sold American” (Mx B22974-1)

The arrangment for “Dipper Mouth Blues” were written by Miller in 1934 for the Dorsey Brothers. He was pretty fond of it enough to record it himself and keep the song in the band’s songbook until late 1940. This side is sparkling, a great hommage to Oliver’s composition, and somehow, the quintescence of what swing was at the time.

Rec. 04/1938
Glenn Miller & his Orchestra “Dipper Mouth Blues” (Mx B22975-1)

I do like these sides a lot, with their qualities and weaknesses. Miller’s orchestra is not my favorite band of the area, but still, some of his RCA sides are marvelous, and these Brunswick recordings are very enjoyable and, in my opinion, underrated today.

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