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Spirit Is Willing 1939-1942
Glenn Miller
Spirit Is Willing 1939-1942
Genres: Jazz, Pop
 
  •  Track Listings (22) - Disc #1


      
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All Artists: Glenn Miller
Title: Spirit Is Willing 1939-1942
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: RCA
Release Date: 1/24/1995
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Style: Swing Jazz
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 078636652924

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CD Reviews

BMG's best Miller album -- of the few decent ones it's issue
Gene DeSantis | Philadelphia, PA United States | 11/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Few recording stars have been as abused by their labels as Glenn Miller's been by RCA and its successor the now Sony BMG. The object of the game with Miller (as with his label-mate Elvis) has been to repackage him as deviously as possible. In the fifties and sixties this meant randomly assorting his studio sides and airchecks and draping them with a sepulchral reverb -- or worse, mangling them with fake stereo. In the seventies the label seemed to come to its senses when it had Frank Driggs supervise complete anthologies of Miller and other Bluebird giants; but however conscientious they were done in by the state of the art in sound rejuvenation, which wasn't very high -- basically heavy filtering and deticking, or the same as the fifties minus the reverb. Now in the CD era the technology has finally reached the music; but alas Miller's old label nemeses came back to haunt him, in a different way, issuing albums on the rare occasions they feel like it, and devising them just as randomly.

This Orrin Keepnews-produced album has the advantage of a consistent theme: that Miller could jazz with the best of them. This might seem hopeless given how many still think him the godfather of easy listening, a testimony to his great success; but a man who served in the musical trenches with Red Nichols and the Dorsey Brothers knew the stuff inside-out. Of course Miller was blessed with a keen commercial sense and impeccable taste; and because we think of him primarily through "Moonlight Serenade" and a couple of gooey ballads (not to mention songs like "In the Mood" which became implacable clichés) those virtues became vices to his reputation. But Miller never abandoned his excellence, even in the crowd pleasers; and he certainly never gave up on jazz. Like his band this album gets better as it goes along. The early tracks almost reek of Miller's novelty approach (he played a lot of them in those days), but then we get to items like "Slow Freight", or "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Harlem", which show his virtue at understatement. Soon we enter the era of "Orchestra Wives", and the last eight tracks are uniformly outstanding. Only Miller could have turned "Take the 'A' Train" from a jaunty swinger to a dreamy ballad perhaps more Ellingtonian than the original. And his band could play fast, hot and loud, as in "Keep 'Em Flying", recorded the day FDR declared war on Japan. We know Miller was getting impatient with swing before his dreadful flight into the English Channel, and there is the glimmer of a hint why in the opening bars of the superb George Williams arrangement of "Rainbow Rhapsody": he takes eight beats and stretches them into nine, the sort of trick that would have fit in the bop era, and then the fabulous reeds come up to signal the past, and after a couple of eloquent solos the whole orchestra kicks in forward-lookingly with fierce pride. It is as nearly perfect a thing as the Miller band ever did.

Every title gets the remastering here it deserves, although the overplayed overmastered discs have not stood up that well to time or RCA's mismanagement. This album argues for reissuing the Miller band in its entirety, one last time; but given who runs the label (and that one of the gang is always called "legendary" is clue enough), and because his stuff is all PD in Europe, and anyone there can and does reissue it, it's a hopeless wish. Regardless Miller will survive his detractors intentional and unintentional, as he has for 63 years."
Great collection of Miller instrumentals
Micaloneus | the Cosmos | 06/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've always felt that this collection is to make some kind of statement that the Glenn Miller Orchestra should be embraced in the "jazz" community. Anyway this disc is the perfect companion to the February 28, 1995 "Essential Glenn Miller" two disc set. Finally, why can't these compilations of old 78's have a few more seconds between them? Essentially we have a bunch of singles all crammed together, so why not let them have some breathing room. As I recall, the UK Beatles albums from 1963-1966 had a seven second break between songs. I loved it! It was like giving each song it's own spotlight. Oh, the days of one song at a time."
Wonderful CD with some rare tunes
Micaloneus | 10/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a great CD for any big band buff looking for some great swing tunes. Very dancable and the sound quality very good."