The Glenn Miller Band was the first band that I went on the road with when I was 17 years old. Obviously Glenn Miller was gone and great clarinetist Buddy Defranco was leading the band. Many years later I was on tour in England with Peanuts Hucko and we were playing for the Glenn Miller society. As you might know Glenn was huge in England and very loved as they used to broadcast from there during the war giving so much relief through music. Peanuts was in that band during that time and had such wonderful stories.
Anyway after the gig one night a lady came up to me to tell me how much she loved my playing. She then proceeded to tell me she worked in the tower at the airport the night Glenn took off to fly over the English Channel to get to a gig. She said she went up to him and begged him not to take off as she knew he wasn’t going to make it because of weather and other factors but he did anyway. As we all know he never arrived on the other side that fateful night.
When I left the Benny Goodman Sextet after 2 years i joined Bob Wilber who formed the Bechet Legacy and we did many tours and albums . Both those gigs allowed me to hone my skills playing in a classic jazz format that attracted me when i was very young with Louis Armstrong who was my first influence. I always wondered what it would be like to play in the format Benny had with his famous trio with Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa. I met Mark Shane in the Bechet Legacy and he blew me away with his playing out of the Teddy Wilson style. I had played with Teddy briefly and Mark definetly did that better than anyone since Teddy plus added other flavors of later styles like Hank Jones. I wanted this music even though it had no bass to have a spectrum from classic jazz to swing and even Be-Bop. I was on tour with Peanuts Hucko and Mark Shane was in that band also. The english drummer Mark Manniat also was a booking agent and brought over several american jazz artists like Peanuts to tour. We decided this would be a nice thing to try so Mark booked us on 2 tours in England two years in a row to rave reviews. After the second tour was over in 1994 I left for LA to be bandleader on the Suzanne Somers TV show. It’s great that Irv Kratka at Classic Jazz took an interest in this music and remastered the sound and pacakaged it so beautifully to preserve it. Glenn