Glenn Miller, Trombone
b. Clarinda, IA, USA.
d. Dec. 15, 1944.
né: Alton Glenn Miller.
Disappeared on flight over English Channel during WW2
Glenn Miller's reign as the most popular bandleader in the U.S. came relatively late in his career and was relatively brief, lasting only about three and a half years, from the spring of 1939 to the fall of 1942. But during that period he utterly dominated popular music, and over time he has proven the most enduring figure of the swing era, with reissues of his recordings achieving gold record status 40 years after his death. Miller developed a distinctive sound in which a high-pitched clarinet carried the melody, doubled by a saxophone section playing an octave lower, and he used that sound to produce a series of hits that remain definitive examples of swing music.
Miller's approach is not much appreciated by jazz fans, who prefer bands that allow for greater improvisation than was found in his highly disciplined, rigorously rehearsed unit. But he brought the swing style of popular music to a level of sophistication and commercial acceptance it had not previously achieved and would not see again after his untimely passing.
Miller was the son of Lewis Elmer and Mattie Lou Cavender Miller. He lived in various locations in the Midwest while he was growing up. He first took up the mandolin, then switched to a horn. In Grant City, MO, where his family moved in 1915, he joined the town band and began playing trombone. By 1918, the family had moved to Fort Morgan, CO, where he played in the high school band and graduated in May 1921. He immediately joined the Boyd Senter band, but quit to start college at the University of Colorado in January 1923. After a year, however, he left college and moved to Los Angeles, where he joined Ben Pollack's band. In the summer of 1928, he left Pollack and settled in New York, where he worked as a session musician and arranger. When in the spring of 1934 Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey formed the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, he signed on as trombonist and arranger, remaining with the band almost a year. He left to organize an American band for British bandleader Ray Noble that made its debut at the Rainbow Room in New York's Rockefeller Center. Meanwhile, he was studying theory and composition with Joseph Schillinger.
Miller began recording under his own name for Columbia Records on April 25, 1935, using a pickup band containing members of the Noble orchestra. His instrumental "Solo Hop" reached the Top Ten in the summer of 1935. But he did not organize a permanent touring band of his own until 1937, when he signed to Brunswick Records. The group was not a success, and he disbanded it in early 1938, then reorganized a couple of months later and signed to the discount-priced Bluebird subsidiary of RCA Victor Records.
Still without any great success, he managed to maintain this orchestra for the next year until he got his big break with an engagement at the Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, NY, in the summer of 1939. Glen Island was a major swing venue with a radio wire, giving the band extensive exposure. Already, Miller had hit the charts with the Top Ten hit "Sunrise Serenade"; soon, its flipside, "Moonlight Serenade," would become an even bigger hit. "Wishing (Will Make It So)" (vocal by Ray Eberle) hit number one in June. Ultimately, Miller scored 17 Top Ten hits in 1939, including the subsequent chart-toppers "Stairway to the Stars," "Moon Love," "Over the Rainbow," and "Blue Orchids" (all vocals by Ray Eberle), as well as "The Man With the Mandolin" (vocal by Marion Hutton).
Miller's recording success led to other opportunities. He became the star of the three-times-a-week radio series Chesterfield Supper Club in December 1939 and began the first of several extended engagements at the Café Rouge in the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York in January 1940, also appearing occasionally at the Paramount Theatre. He scored 31 Top Ten hits in 1940, more than three times as many as the second most successful recording artist of the year, Tommy Dorsey, hitting number one with "Careless," "When You Wish Upon a Star," "Imagination," "Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread)," and "Blueberry Hill" (all vocals by Ray Eberle); "The Woodpecker Song" (vocal by Marion Hutton); and the instrumentals "In the Mood" and "Tuxedo Junction" (both of which were later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame).
Miller scored another 11 Top Ten hits in 1941, which was enough to make him the top recording artist for the second year in a row. His number one hits included "Song of the Volga Boatmen," "You and I" (vocal by Ray Eberle), "Chattanooga Choo Choo," from his first film, Sun Valley Serenade (vocals by Tex Beneke and the Modernaires with Paula Kelly), and "Elmer's Tune" (vocals by Ray Eberle and the Modernaires). The story was much the same on the recording front in 1942, 11 Top Ten hits and a third straight ranking as the year's top recording artist, the chart-toppers including "A String of Pearls," "Moonlight Cocktail" (vocals by Ray Eberle and the Modernaires), "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)," and "(I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo" (vocals on the last two by Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton, and the Modernaires). "Kalamazoo" came from Miller's second film, Orchestra Wives.
Yet 1942, the first full year of American participation in World War II, marked the end of Miller's dominance of popular music, since, after months of negotiations, he arranged to receive an officer's commission in the army air force on September 10 and, 17 days later, played his final date with his band, which he then broke up. He organized a service band and began performing at military camps and war-bond rallies while hosting a weekly radio series, Sustain the Wings. Nevertheless, he scored two more Top Ten hits in 1943, including the number one "That Old Black Magic" (vocals by Skip Nelson and the Modernaires). He took his band to Great Britain in June 1944 and continued to perform for the troops and do radio broadcasts. He was preparing to go on to Paris when the plane on which he was traveling disappeared over the English Channel and he died at age 40.
Glenn Miller, an album of 78 rpm records, topped the newly instituted album charts in May 1945 and became the most successful album of the year. The Glenn Miller Orchestra was reconstituted as a ghost band after the war under the direction of Tex Beneke. In October 1947, Glenn Miller Masterpieces, Vol. 2 topped the album charts. Miller was the subject of a partly fictionalized film biography, The Glenn Miller Story, starring James Stewart, in February 1954; a soundtrack album of re-recordings not featuring Miller, released by Decca Records, hit number one in March. RCA Victor countered with the 10" LP Selections from the Glenn Miller Story, which hit number one in May. (The album was reissued as a 12" LP with a modified track selection in 1956 and was certified gold in 1961.
In 1962, RCA Victor released Glenn Miller Plays Selections from the Glenn Miller Story and Other Hits, which had an identical track listing to the 1956 Selections from the Glenn Miller Story LP. It went gold in 1968.) The Miller estate, having parted ways with Tex Beneke, hired Ray McKinley, a former member of the Miller band, to organize a new ghost band in 1956, and this Glenn Miller Orchestra continued to record and perform under various leaders from then on.
In 1959, RCA Victor released a triple LP of previously unissued performances, For the First Time ..., which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by a Dance Band. Reissues of Miller's original recordings sold well perennially. The double-LP A Memorial 1944-1969, released in October 1969, went gold in 1986; Pure Gold, released in March 1975, went gold in 1984. In 1989, Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers sampled Miller's recording of "In the Mood" on their gold single "Swing the Mood." While RCA Victor remains the primary repository of Miller recordings and continues to reissue them in various configurations, other labels have also come up with airchecks and other stray recordings, making for a large and constantly growing catalog.
~ William Ruhlmann
Kenny Baker
b. Withernsea, England
d. Dec. 7, 1999, Felpham, West Sussex, England, UK. (Viral Infection) 
Age: 78.
As a lad, he started playing Piano (at home), but by age 12, he was playing Cornet in a local Brass Band. In 1939, he joined the Lew Stone band. Subsequently, he worked in Maurice Winnick; Sid Millward; Ambrose and Jack Hylton bands. During 1946-'49, he worked for Ted Heath as lead Trumpet and arranger. 1949-'51 found him working in British film studios where he did sound track works for such films as 'Genevieve', 'Red Shoes' and others. While he has led his own group ("Baker's Dozen"), Kenny has basically been a freelancer in TV and Film studios. Kenny has credited Bunny Berigan and Louis Armstrong as some of his early influences. He has won the prestigious Melody Maker Reader's Poll of "Britian's Best in 1957" award. He considers his best solo to be "Dark Eyes" which he recorded with the Ted Heath Orch.

Aime Barelli
b. Loda, Lantosque, France

Harry Belafonte, vocals
b. New York, NY, USA.
né: Harold George Belafonte, Jr. Was on track team of his high school(George Washington High School - New York City). In 1944, he left high school and joined the Navy. Harry's second wife, Julie, was a featured dancer in Katherine Dunham's dance troupe, and they have two children (son and a daughter). The daughter, Gina was a 'regular' on a TV series: "The Comish". Harry and Julie are very active in the civil rights struggle.

Barrett Deems, Drums
b. Springfield, IL, USA.
d. Sept. 15, 1998, Chicago, IL, USA.
Pneumonia - age 85.
It is ironic that Barrett Deems' highest profile gig, touring with the Louis Armstrong All-Stars, found him very much out-of-place, reduced to playing in a Dixieland setting. In reality, Deems had a lengthy career with other lesser-known high points. He was with Paul Ash's group when he was just 15 and had his own groups during much of the 1930s. Deems was with the Joe Venuti big band (1937-1944), Red Norvo (1948), Charlie Barnet (1951), and Muggsy Spanier (1951-1954); during that era he was billed almost accurately as "the world's fastest drummer." Deems was with Louis Armstrong during 1954-1958, a period when he was criticized by many jazz writers despite giving the music his best effort.
After playing with Jack Teagarden (1960-1963), he settled in Chicago where he played locally with many top swing stars. Deems toured Eastern Europe with Benny Goodman's sextet in 1976 and visited South America with Wild Bill Davison. In later years, Barrett Deems led a fairly modern big band in Chicago and he recorded a strong set with the orchestra for Delmark after he turned 80, his playing modeled after Buddy Rich; he died of pneumonia September 15, 1998.
~ Scott Yanow

Kathleen (Kay) Finegan, singer
b. San Diego, CA, USA.
As a singer, Kay worked in Speakeasies, Nightclubs, Bands, Radio, and Theatres. She appeared with the 'Major Bowes Troupe', that plied the Monongehela & Ohio Rivers on the famous "Showboat". In 1936, she married Bill Finegan, orchestrator & composer, and also joined the Glenn Miller Orchestra as part of his writer, copyist team.
In 1951, (after returning from France) she helped to form the "Sauter-Finegan Orchestra" with duties including management, publicity, personnel, etc. After her divorce from Finegan, she did Artist management, recording, public relations.
Later, she formed a food catering service (Call Cuisine) which she eventually sold and became a "Travel Junkie".

Ralph J. Gleason
Writer/music critic
b. New York, NY, USA. d. 1975.
Ralph Gleason only lived to be 58 but he had a very productive career. After graduating from Columbia University in 1938, Gleason was the founder and editor of Jazz Information, one of the first jazz magazines. He was originally a partisan for dixieland and New Orleans jazz but always kept an open mind. Gleason was a regular contributor to Down Beat (1948-61) and the San Francisco Chronicle (1950-75). He also wrote for a variety of magazines including Stereo Review and Jazz. Gleason was the editor of a 1958 book Jam Session: An Anthology of Jazz, helped found the Monterey Jazz Festival with Jimmy Lyons and was the host of the Jazz Casual television show (videos of which exist) in the 1960s.
Gleason (who wrote many liner notes through the years) was always interested in popular music and he surprised many by not only founding Rolling Stone in 1967 but becoming its editor and embracing creative rock. However his passion for jazz never lessened and Ralph Gleason (who was a vice president of Fantasy Records during 1970-75) came out with a jazz book (Celebrating the Duke) shortly before his premature death.
~ Scott Yanow

Edward Jablonski
b. Bay City, MI, USA
d. Feb. 10, 2004, New York, NY, USA. (Heart Failure)
Jablonski befriended some of America's finest Pop composers, including the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, and Irving Berlin, with whose help he wrote some landmark biographies. Working with Ira Gershwin, his first book was entitled The Gershwin Years. In 1961, he published a biography an still another close family friend, Harold Arlen, entitled Harold Arlen: Happy with the Blues. Among Arlen's over 400 songs are "It's Only A Paper Moon", "Stormy Weather" (a Lena Horne hit), and "Over The Rainbow" (with lyric by E. Y. "Yip" Harburg). 
In 1973, Jablonski's second edition of The Gershwin Years was the basis of a TV documentary narrated by another famous songwriter, Richard Rodgers. In this revised edition, Jablonski wrote of his friend Ira Gershwin "....that he is one of the great lyricists in American song is obvious....that it went generally unheralded for so long is one of the curiosities of our musical history."
Also in 1973, Jablonski's book The Gershwin Years in Song was published, and in 1992 the book Gershwin Remembered. In 1981, his first large scale reference work, The Encyclopedia of American Music, was published. In 1987, on the 50th anniversary of of George Gershwin's demise, Jablonski's 951 page definitive opus Gershwin was published. In 1999, his Irving Berlin, American Troubador was published. Berlin, who composed well over 1500 songs, and who could only play the piano in one key, was called "America's Franz Schubert" by George Gershwin. At his death, Jablonski was working on a second large scale reference work. Interestingly, Jablonski also pursued a second interest, - Aviation. Among a handful of books he published on the topic were The Knighted Skies: A Pictorial History of World War I In The Air (1964), Ladybirds: Women in Aviation (1968), and Doolittle: A Biography (1976), which was a biography of still another one of his close friends.

Tommy Jarrell
d. Jan. 28, 1985.
né: Thomas Jefferson Jarrell
Tommy Jarrell - Wikipedia

Rina Ketty
Rina Ketty (1 March 1911 - 23 December 1996), whose real name was Cesarina Picchetto, was an Italian singer, notably of the legendary song J'attendrai. The song reached superstatus and was appreciated by Allied soldiers and Axis soldiers alike (equalled only by Lale Andersen's Lili Marlene and perhaps by Vera Lynn's We'll meet again.)

It is often thought that Rina Ketty was born in Turin, Italy. However, in reality she was born in Sarzana, a small village in Liguria, on 1 March 1911 in the part of town known as Vetraia. Her birth certificate number 586 is kept by the parish of Saint André. She went to Paris in the 1930s to meet up with her aunts, where she became enthralled by the artist communities of Montmartre. She loved to visit the cabarets and started out to sing in 1934 in the Lapin Agile cabaret with songs by Paul Delmet, Gaston Couté, Théodore Botrel, and Yvette Guilbert. In 1936 she recorded her first songs (on the French Pathé Records label): "La Madone aux fleurs", "Près de Naples la jolie" and "Si tu reviens". These first songs did not really achieve wide acclaim. Things changed for the better in 1938, when Rina Ketty recorded the French version of an Italian success song "Rien que mon coeur", which won the acclaimed Grand Prix du Disque, and with the song "Prière à la Madone". Her name as a singer became well established with the song "Sombreros et mantilles"; the text of which had been written by Chanty and the music by accordion player Jean Vaissade, whom she married that same year.

In 1938 Rina Ketty recorded that famous song "J'attendrai" ("I will wait"), which is actually a translation of the Italian song "Tornerai" (music by Dino Oliveira and text by Nino Rastelli); it had been a huge hit for Carlo Buti in Italy the year before. The French text was written by Louis Poterat. Rina Ketty's version of "J'attendrai" was released by Pathé Records and from the very start became an enormous success. Later it became an emblem of World War II. Rina Ketty's Italian accent highlighting the French text of the song, worked wonderfully on the radio of those days, but also on various subsequent recorded versions.

Several composers wrote songs for Rina with her charming accent in mind. So for example Paul Mirsaki (with his "Rendez-moi mon coeur", which in fact was a reprise of "Sombreros et mantilles", but this time the text remained much closer to the Spanish original) and Jean Tranchant (with "Pourvu qu'on chante"). In 1939 Rina Ketty ventured into classical music with the song "Mon coeur soupire", an adaptation of "Voi Che sapete" from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

Rina Ketty divorced her husband Jean Vaissade in 1940.

Following the Nazi Occupation of France, Rina - due to her Italian upbringing - wanted to be viewed in public as little as possible during the conflict; she performed on stage only in Switzerland. Upon the Liberation of France Rina Ketty started out again, this time with a concert in the Alhambra-Maurice Chevalier theatre of Paris followed by a 5-month tour through the whole of France. However, she was not able to regain her pre-war fame. Rina Ketty was often described as an exotic and sentimental singer; in this genre she was overtaken by Gloria Lasso, who later in turn was overtaken by Dalida (who even ventured to re-record "J'attendrai" in a disco version). The repertoire of Rina Ketty was now enlarged with new songs such as for example "Sérénade argentine" (1948), "La Samba tarentelle", and "La Roulotte des gitans" (1950). She left for Canada in 1954, and lived there some 12 years, where she would only sing her "Sombreros et Mantilles" for rather select audiences of for example Inuit. In 1965 Rina Ketty tried one last time to achieve success with a tour through France, but to no avail.

The second time Rina Ketty / Cesarina Picchetto married was to Jo Harman, and together they started a restaurant in Cannes. Her very last concert was in March 1996. She died on 23 December 1996 in the Broussailles hospital of Cannes.

More than 75 years after its creation, the song of "J'attendrai" still brings fame to its performer, not in the least for its re-appearance in Das Boot, a now legendary German film directed by Wolfgang Petersen.
Rina Ketty

Teddy Powell, Guitar
banjo, arranger, leader, vocal, composer
b. Oakland, CA, USA.
né: Alfred Paolella
For a brief period in 1939, Teddy Powell led one of the top big bands in jazz. With an ensemble full of top musicians, Powell had a very successful six-week run at the Famous Door in New York. Powell bragged that he had done in a short time what it taken Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey years to accomplish. But once he took his band on the road, the lack of name recognition resulted in small crowds, money began to be lost and the more notable sidemen left for other lucrative jobs. The fantasy was quickly over! Teddy Powell began playing violin when he was eight, picked up the banjo when he was 14 and led his first band the following year. Powell worked locally with Lou Singer and Ray West (1927) before joining Abe Lyman's Orchestra where he remained until 1934.
Powell worked with Lyman on the business side of the music business through 1938, organizing radio bands. In late 1938, Powell put together his own big band and after its initial success and difficulties on the road, the Teddy Powell Orchestra managed to survive as a second-level band for several years. A disastrous fire at the Rustic Cabin in New Jersey in Oct. 1941 resulted in the orchestra losing all its instruments but Powell was able to keep the big band (which underwent a lot of turnover) going into 1944 although not recording anything after 1942. Earlier editions of the band made swinging recordings for Decca and Bluebird.
Among Powell's sidemen through the years were clarinetist Gus Bivona, pianist Tony Aless, clarinetist Irving Fazola, tenor-saxophonist Charlie Ventura and trumpeter Pete Candoli. After his big band's breakup, Powell concentrated on composing and arranging. He wrote several hit songs (including "Bewildered" and "If My Heart Could Only Talk") and led occasional big bands including in Connecticut and Miami. In later years (particularly after 1957) Teddy Powell was mostly involved in his own music publishing business.
~ Scott Yanow

Joseph Reinhardt, Guitar
b. Paris, France
d. Feb. 1982.
Guitarist Django Reinhardt's brother.

Augie Schelling, Drums
b. New Orleans, LA, USA.

Benjamin J. Smith
Alto Sax/clarinet
b. Memphis, TN, USA.

Cliffe Stone
C&W Singer-Songwriter/Bass/Comedy
b. Stockton, CA, USA
d. January 17, 1998, Los Angeles, CA, USA,
Age: 80 (heart attack).
né: Clifford Gilpin Snyder.

E. B. De Priest Wheeler, Trombone
b. Kansas City, MO, USA..
Cab Calloway's great Trombonist.
Last known to be with the U.S. Postoffice in the 1950s.
Notable Events Occurring 
On This Date Include:

Paul Whiteman orchestra recorded
"Ol Man River" with vocal by 29-year-old
Paul Robeson. (Victor Records).
A Jerome Kern tune first heard in the
Broadway musical 'Showboat'.

Clarence E. Holiday, guitar
died in Dallas, TX, USA.
Age: 38.
Billie Holiday's father.

Lucille Hegamin, vocalist
died in New York, NY, USA.
Age: 75.

Bobby Timmons, piano
died in New York, NY, USA.
Age: 38.
Dave Kapp, songwriter/publisher/label founder (Kapp Records)
died in New York, NY, USA.
Age: 72.

Danny Brown, owner ('Jewel Box Revue')
died in Hallandale, FL, USA.

Joe Harris, alto sax
died in New Orleans, LA, USA.

Joseph Spence (left) and Raymond Pinder, 
photographed in Nassau in 1978 by 
Guy Droussart.
Raymond Pinder, vocals
died in Nassau, Bahamas
Age: 73
Member: 'The Pinder Family'

Freddie Green, guitar
died in Las Vegas, NV, USA.
Age: 75.
Best recalled for his work with the Count Basie orch.

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra


Kentucky Serenaders


Isham Jones and His Rainbo Orchestra
  • Rose Introducing "Soft And Low"

Isham Jones and his Orchestra

Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - My Mammy (Introducing "Beautiful Faces")

Ol' Man River

Dere's an ol' man called de Mississippi
Dat's de ol' man dat I'd like to be!
What does he care if de world's got troubles?
What does he care if de land ain't free?

Ol' man river,
Dat ol' man river
He mus'know sumpin'
But don't say nuthin',
He jes'keeps rollin'
He keeps on rollin' along.

He don' plant taters,
He don't plant cotton,
An' dem dat plants'em
is soon forgotten,
But ol'man river,
He jes keeps rollin'along.

You an'me, we sweat an' strain,
Body all achin' an' racket wid pain,
Tote dat barge!
Lif' dat bale!
Git a little drunk
An' you land in jail.

Ah gits weary
An' sick of tryin'
Ah'm tired of livin'
An' skeered of dyin',
But ol' man river,
He jes'keeps rolling' along.

Colored folks work on de Mississippi,
Colored folks work while de white folks play,
Pullin' dose boats from de dawn to sunset,
Gittin' no rest till de judgement day.

Don't look up
An' don't look down,
You don' dast make
De white boss frown.
Bend your knees
An'bow your head,
An' pull date rope
Until you' dead.

Let me go 'way from the Mississippi,
Let me go 'way from de white man boss;
Show me dat stream called de river Jordan,
Dat's de ol' stream dat I long to cross.

O' man river,
Dat ol' man river,
He mus'know sumpin'
But don't say nuthin'
He jes' keeps rollin'
He keeps on rollin' along.

Long ol' river forever keeps rollin' on...

He don' plant tater,
He don' plant cotton,
An' dem dat plants 'em
Is soon forgotten,
but ol' man river,
He jes' keeps rollin' along.

Long ol' river keeps hearing dat song.
You an' me, we sweat an' strain,
Body all achin an' racked wid pain.
Tote dat barge!
Lif' dat bale!
Git a little drunk
An' you land in jail.

Ah, gits weary
An' sick of tryin'
Ah'm tired of livin'
An' skeered of dyin',
But ol' man river,
He jes'keeps rollin' along!

brought to you by... 


Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database
, Scott Yanow,
and all those who have provided content,
images and sound files for this site.

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