“In the Mood” (1938) Edgar Hayes and (1939) Glenn Miller

The Glenn Miller band was at Glen Island Casino in mid-1939 when “In the Mood” was recorded.

This is the first time I have given over the swingandbeyond.com forum to someone else, at least in part. The reason why I am doing this is that on occasion, I run across the work of another swing scholar that I think is worth sharing. The essay below, which traces the overall history of the swing era anthem “In the Mood,” was written by Dennis M. Spragg. Dennis is passionate about the history and music of the swing era, and he is a scholar who takes no short-cuts when investigating vexing historical questions. Only after he has done his research and thinking, does Dennis write. I respect the great work Dennis is doing at the Glenn Miller Archive, and value his friendship.

I have previously reviewed Dennis’s recently published book Glenn Miller Declassified on this blog. A link to that post can be found at the end of this post. 

So here is the first guest contribution/collaboration to swingandbeyond.com. Thanks Dennis!

“In the Mood” – The Anthem of the Big Band Era

The story – part one – by Dennis M. Spragg.

The quintessential swing era anthem, “In the Mood,” was derived from several earlier works. Once “In the Mood” was eventually “composed,” it remained a work in progress, leading up to and indeed following the classic recording of it by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra in 1939.

The first recording of anything with elements resembling what would become “In the Mood” was a tune titled “Clarinet Getaway” (aka “Third Alley Breakdown”), recorded by the Jimmy O’Bryant Washboard Wonders in June of 1925 for Paramount records. This recording has matrix number P-2148 and was issued issued as Paramount 12287. It was made by a four-piece band including O’Bryant playing clarinet, accompanied by a piano, cornet and someone playing a washboard.

Themes similar to those on the O’Bryant recording were evident in the Wingy Manone performance of “Tar Paper Stomp,” (as by Barbeque Joe and his Hot Dogs), recorded on August 28, 1930 for Champion. Manone’s recording, matrix number G16951, issued initially as Champion 16153, is considered the genesis of “In the Mood” by many jazz historians. The group was otherwise known as Wingy Manone and his Orchestra. Decca acquired Champion in 1935, and reissues on the Decca label credit Wingy Manone and his Orchestra. (Above left: Wingy Manone.)

Fletcher Henderson recorded elements of the riff heard in “Tar Paper Stomp” as “Hot and Anxious” for Columbia on March 19, 1931. This is matrix W 151443-1, and it was issued as Columbia 2449-D as by The Baltimore Bell Hops. Fletcher Henderson led one of the most popular African-American orchestra of the 1920s and early 1930s. “Hot and Anxious” was composed and arranged by Henderson’s brother Horace Henderson. Don Redman and his Orchestra also recorded “Hot and Anxious,” for Brunswick on June 28, 1932. This is matrix B 12006-A, and was issued as Brunswick 6368. (Redman had played saxophone for Fletcher Henderson, and was a pioneering swing arranger.) There is “scat” (wordless) singing on the Redman recording, but no lyrics were sung. (Above right: Fletcher Henderson’s recording of “Hot and Anxious” was issued under the pseudonym Baltimore Bell Hops.)

Saxophonist Joe Garland wrote arrangements and played in the saxophone section for the Mills Blue Rhythm Band.This organization was led by Lucky Millinder and financed by Irving Mills. Garland composed and arranged a tune that he titled “There’s Rhythm In Harlem” for the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, which also included notable musicians J. C. Higginbotham, trombone; Henry “Red” Allen, trumpet and Edgar Hayes, piano, among others.The Garland chart, which contained fragments of music that would later appear in his composition “In the Mood,” was recorded by the Blue Rhythm Band on July 9, 1935 for Columbia. It is matrix number CO 17797-1 and was issued as Columbia 3071-D. (Above left: Joe Garland – late 1930s.)

When Edgar Hayes formed his own band in 1937, Joe Garland went with him. Garland composed and arranged the work that we essentially know to be “In the Mood” probably sometime in 1937. Edgar Hayes and his Orchestra recorded the Garland chart for Decca on February 17, 1938. It is matrix number 63297-A, and was released as Decca 1882-B. Prior to the Hayes recording, only brief glimpses of the “riff” which would become familiar with “In the Mood” can be heard in the various recordings mentioned above. The Hayes recording is the first version of the future “In the Mood” that bears a definite resemblance to what would become the definitive Glenn Miller version.

“In the Mood”

Composed and arranged by Joe Garland.

Recorded by Edgar Hayes and His Orchestra on January 14, 1938 for Decca in New York.(*)

Edgar Hayes, piano, directing: Bernie Flood, Henry Goodwin, Leonard Davis, trumpets; Robert Horton, David James, Clyde Bernhart, trombones; Rudy Powell and Roger Boyd, alto saxophones; William Mitchner, tenor saxophone; Joe Garland, tenor and baritone saxophone; Eddie Gibbs, guitar; Frank Darling, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums.

The music – part one – by Mike Zirpolo.

I am struck when listening to this recording by the joyous swing imparted to the music by the Edgar Hayes band. The arrangement, by the tune’s composer, Joe Garland, features Garland himself providing the juicy, bouncing bass notes on his baritone saxophone. The tart trumpet solo is played by either Bernie Flood or Henry Goodwin; the clarinet burst by Rudy Powell. The drummer, Kenny Clarke, was later to be one of the first percussionists to develop the drumming approach to bebop. (At right: Edgar Hayes – 1938.)

This performance contains several riffs that Garland obviously intended to serve as musical contrasts with the main riff theme. These contrasting riff themes were retained verbatim in the arrangement Artie Shaw used for this tune (see below), but were largely eliminated by that master editor Glenn Miller in his band’s recording of “In the Mood.” Miller would achieve contrasts with the main riff by other, far more memorable musical means.

The story – part two – by Dennis M. Spragg.

On March 16, 1938, Joe Marsala and his Chicagoans jumped into the picture with a recording titled “Hot String Beans,” which featured a young Buddy Rich on drums. Although played at a much slower tempo, this tune bears a resemblance to the Garland/Hayes “In the Mood,” and a future adaptation by Artie Shaw and his arranger Jerry Gray (see below). This is matrix number M781 and was issued as Vocalion 4168. At the time of the Hayes recording, lyricist Andy Razaf added a lyric to “In the Mood,” a common practice of the time. Razaf was a protégé of Thomas “Fats” Waller, who wrote the lyrics for such Waller hits as “Ain’t Misbehavin” and “Honeysuckle Rose”.

Joe Garland copyrighted “In the Mood” in June of 1938. The tune then languished.

Garland sold “In the Mood” to bandleader Artie Shaw in November of 1938. Shaw chose to present it initially as a six-minute instrumental arrangement by Jerry Gray (Generoso Graziano), that closely followed the Edgar Hayes recording of Garland’s arrangement. The Shaw version was at first played at a much slower tempo than either the Hayes recording, or the forthcoming Miller adaptation. Shaw broadcast the chart several times over NBC radio remotes, and on his CBS Old Gold Melody and Madness program, to a lukewarm audience receptions. Although Shaw would shorten the piece and speed up the tempo after several performances, he never made a commercial recording of it.

Meanwhile, Wingy Manone went into the RCA studios on April 26, 1939 to record for Bluebird an essentially updated version of “Tar Paper Stomp.” The tune was titled “Jumpy Nerves.” It is matrix number BS-0036537-1 and was issued as B-10289.

Glenn Miller purchased what was likely the Joe Garland arrangement of “In the Mood” (as recorded by the Edgar Hayes band) probably in June of 1939.(1) He tasked arranger Eddie Durham to work out a revision of it with him. (2) Durham was a pioneering swing arranger who had worked with many Afro-American territory bands in the 1920s and early 1930s. (He played trombone and guitar in addition to arranging.) He began to become a recognized first-rate arranger while he was with Jimmie Lunceford’s band (1935-1937), and then played a major role in shaping the music of the early Count Basie band (1937-1938). (Above right: pioneering swing arranger Eddie Durham – late 1930s.)

By 1938, Durham was working as a free-lance arranger in New York. His arrangements found their way into the libraries of many bands including Ina Rae Hutton’s all girl band, Jan Savitt’s Top Hatters, Artie Shaw’s and Glenn Miller’s. Durham penned most of the up-tempo, jazz-swing charts that propelled the 1939 Glenn Miller band to popularity first at the Meadowbrook Ballroom, Cedar Grove, New Jersey in the spring of that year, and shortly after that at Glen Island Casino, New Rochelle, New York, and over many NBC broadcasts from that venue. Significantly, the overall feel of Glenn Miller’s classic recording of “In the Mood” has a 4/4 Basie-Durham feel, not a 2/4 Lunceford-Durham feel.

In the end, Miller, Durham and Miller’s pianist/sometime arranger J. C. “Chummy” MacGregor cobbled together the Miller arrangement of “In the Mood” as a sort of committee, though evidence indicates that Miller’s role as editor was paramount. He initially trimmed the Garland chart down to a four and a half minute instrumental broadcast performance length, and then to a three-minute and thirty-seven second recording session length, in order to fit on one side of a ten-inch 78 rpm record. (The maximum recording time available on those ten-inch 78s was 3:43.)

“In the Mood”

Composed by Joe Garland; arranged by Glenn Miller, with input from Eddie Durham and Chummy MacGregor.

Recorded by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra on August 1, 1939 for RCA Bluebird in New York.

Glenn Miller, first trombone, directing: R.D. McMickle, first trumpet; Clyde Hurley and Legh Knowles, trumpets; Paul Tanner and Al Mastren, trombones; Hal McIntyre, first alto saxophone; Wilbur Schwartz, alto saxophone; Gordon “Tex” Beneke and Al Klink, tenor saxophones; Harold Tennyson, alto and baritone saxophone; J.Chalmers “Chummy” MacGregor, piano; Richard Fisher, guitar; Rowland Bundock, bass; Maurice Purtill, drums.

Miller’s first broadcast “In the Mood” was on a July 26, 1939 sustaining remote broadcast over NBC’s Blue Network from Glen Island Casino. This was the four and a half minute version of the tune. Miller performed it at faster tempo for jitterbugs in keeping with the original tempo of the 1938 Edgar Hayes Decca record performance. With added flourishes in the opening and false endings at the close, the tune became an immediate favorite of dancers at Glen Island Casino and of listeners of the radio broadcasts.

Miller recorded “In the Mood” for the RCA Bluebird label August 1, 1939 at RCA Victor Studio 2, New York. It is matrix number BS-038170-1 and was issued as Bluebird B10416-A, and paired on the Bluebird disk with “I Want to Be Happy” recorded at the same session.

The music – part two – by Mike Zirpolo.

I must relate a story from my childhood at this point, because it will illustrate an important point about an essential component of the music in Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood.” When I was a child, the house where I lived with my family had a cozy room on the second floor where my father kept his records and a phonograph. In the early 1950s when I was quite small, almost all of my father’s records were 78 rpm ten-inch shellac disks. I was forbidden from touching them because they were very brittle and broke easily. Occasionally, my father would play some of his records. Usually, whatever he chose to play was of no interest to me. I was a small child and knew nothing about music. But on one occasion, as I was busying myself on the first floor of our home, I heard musical sounds emanating from my father’s phonograph that caught my attention, and decided to go up to his music room and investigate. When the record finished playing, I asked my father what had just been played. “That was ‘In the Mood’  by Glenn Miller,” he told me. I asked him to play it again, which he did. At the end of the second playing, I asked him: “what were those repeated sounds on that”? He said, “those are called riffs, Mike.”

The Miller band in its first flush of great success – on the stage of the Paramount Theater in Manhattan – September 20 to October 10, 1939. L-R: Tommy Mack, Mickey McMickle, Al Mastren, Clyde Hurley, Miller, Moe Purtill, Al Klink and Rolly Bundock.)

What we hear in Glenn Miller’s arrangement of “In the Mood” are riffs, and plenty of them, built on a blues harmonic foundation, as the basic motive of the piece. It is also noteworthy that Miller set a medium swing tempo, a bit slower than that used by Edgar Hayes. After an eight-bar introduction that starts with unison saxophones, the Miller arrangement unfolds with riffs played by the saxophone section, punctuated by brief bursts of brass. (This is what I’ll call the “A” section of the tune.) The “B” section follows, with the reeds playing a different riff, for a slight contrast. This leads into a brief band transition which brings on Miller’s two tenor saxophone soloists, who provide yet another contrast. Tex Beneke plays first, his sound bright and edgy; Al Klink follows, with a bigger, broader sound. Their two-bar exchanges leave them barely enough space to do anything beyond a few rhythmic bursts of notes. But as we know, time was at a premium for this recording. Another transitional fanfare played by the band springs trumpeter Clyde Hurley into his swaggering sixteen-bar solo, which is excellent: Hurley had a nice, fat trumpet tone, a good upper register, fine jazz ideas, and good, strong swing. It is my opinion that the syncopated and swinging saxophone accompaniment behind Hurley’s solo was at least one of Eddie Durham’s contribution to this arrangement.

Immediately after Hurley finishes, the “A” section riff reappears, but it is now handled quite differently: the dynamic level of the saxophones is much lower, and the saxophone riffs are now punctuated by pedal tones played by the three trombones in unison. And this quieter segment is followed by two even quieter ones. By doing this, Miller has brilliantly contrasted the recurring saxophone riff theme with the low trombone pedal tones, and the teasing upward figure whispered by the trumpets presaging the finale. I am of the opinion that this part of the arrangement was created by Miller, who loved contrasts of dynamics, register and timbre, but that Eddie Durham fleshed-out Miller’s ideas on the original score.(3)

The finale starts with a bursts of brass, and the final riffs have everyone in the band playing at fortissimo. Lead trumpeter Mickey McMickle handles the final ascent into the ending brilliantly. Miller’s pianist and friend, Chummy MacGregor, took credit for the explosive ending, but based on available evidence (the original score with Miller’s and Durham’s handwriting on it), it appears that Eddie Durham actually wrote it out. (Above left: Chummy MacGregor (at piano) with Glenn Miller. Miller was a masterful editor of arrangements who loved musical contrasts.)

Gunther Schuller, in his book The Swing Era, made some insightful remarks about the dynamic contrasts at the heart of the second half of “In the Mood”: “Part of the excitement of the whole coda derived from the exquisite sense of suspended animation created in the diminishing riff repetitions by the surprising elongation – it is surprising even after the 1000th listening – of the low, unison A-flat pedal note in the trombones, thereby yielding an unexpected 14-bar phrase length, rather than the traditional (for blues) twelve.” (4) (At right: Glenn Miller – Editor in Chief.)

The story – part three – by Dennis M. Spragg.

“In the Mood” became score 248 in the Miller Library and the Miller arrangement was published. The tune would eventually be broadcast on 62 occasions by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra on their CBS commercial program “Chesterfield Moonlight Serenade”; on their “Coca Cola Spotlight Bands” broadcasts (Mutual and the Blue Network); and on remote (sustaining/unsponsored) broadcasts for NBC and Mutual between 1939 and when Miller disbanded to join the Army in September 1942.

Miller took “In the Mood” with him when he entered military service, and he performed it often at live concerts with his Army Air Force Orchestra between 1943 and 1945 in the United States, the United Kingdom and on the continent. The AAF Orchestra broadcast or recorded “In the Mood” for broadcast on 21 occasions.

 Glenn Miller and his Army Air Force Orchestra.

Neither Glenn Miller and his civilian band or the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Orchestra recorded or broadcast “In the Mood” using the tune’s vocal lyrics. During 1941 and 1942, the Miller civilian band changed the tempo and other aspects of the tune somewhat, and different soloists, such as jazz trumpeter Billy May, introduced new twists to the performances. The Army Air Force treatment was also modified to accommodate soloists such as drummer Ray McKinley and pianist Mel Powell. Thus, “In the Mood” evolved, as did the content and style of the Miller library from 1938 to 1942, and beyond. Glenn Miller was not one to stand still.

It is an urban legend that he required soloists to play the solos on “In the Mood” and other arrangements in exactly the same manner every time they were performed. Evidence to the contrary on “In the Mood” can be found by listening to various live performances issued by Sony (BMG, RCA) and various independent labels. Examples include: “Sunset Serenade” (NBC Blue) November 22, 1941; Chesterfield Moonlight Serenade (CBS) December 31, 1941; “I Sustain the Wings” (CBS) July 17, 1943 and “I Sustain the Wings” (NBC) March 4, 1944.

“In the Mood” was Miller’s biggest instrumental hit and most-requested number. Per his original RCA recording contract, Miller received $175.00 for recording “In the Mood.” His contract was renegotiated after “In the Mood” became a hit, and he received retroactive royalties for it (and other recordings he made for Bluebird before the success of “In the Mood”). In its original release and subsequent re-releases by RCA, “In the Mood” far surpassed one million single record sales.(5)

RCA Bluebird recorded a vocal version of “In the Mood” November 13, 1939. It was by The Four King Sisters, backed by a small group from Alvino Rey and his Orchestra which was called the “Rhythm Reys”. The tune was recorded at Victor’s Hollywood, California studio. It is matrix number PBS-042247-3 and it was issued as Bluebird B-10545.

Perhaps because two versions of “In the Mood” were issued by Bluebird, Victor did not issue a cover version of it by another artist. Nor did the other, competing labels release strong competitive versions of the tune. Nevertheless, in addition to the two 1939 Bluebird releases featuring Miller and Rey, and the then-circulating 1938 Decca recording by Edgar Hayes, “In the Mood” was recorded for Vocalion (one of Columbia’s budget labels) in New York on November 8, 1939 by Al Donahue and his Orchestra, with vocal by Paula Kelly. This is matrix number 25533-1, which was released as Vocalion 5238. Decca issued a competing vocal version performed by the Merry Macs and recorded November 9, 1939. It is matrix number 66497-A, and was issued on Decca 2842. Columbia also released an instrumental treatment of “In the Mood” by Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra that was recorded January 18, 1940. This is matrix number WCO 26436-A, released as Columbia 35372. Therefore, in 1940, there were six versions of “In the Mood” in circulation; two each with RCA, Columbia and Decca.

“In the Mood” was also performed on live radio broadcasts by several other name bands, including Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa. CBS and NBC broadcasts of these performances are held at the University of Colorado Glenn Miller Archive, along with almost all of the broadcast performances that survive by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra and the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Orchestra. A well-known vocal performance of “In the Mood” by the Andrews Sisters was not recorded and released until 1952. Oddly, reissues of this later recording are often mistakenly considered contemporaneous with the Miller recording or the time period of the Second World War.


Dennis Spragg prepared the main body of this post with information from the Glenn Miller Archive Collections, an extraordinary repository of materials about the swing era. Here is a link to that resource:


My comments are based on the sources cited below.

(1) Chummy MacGregor, in his unpublished memoir of his time with the Miller band stated the following about how Miller acquired what was probably the arrangement Edgar Hayes used on “In the Mood”: “Another source of material was a kid around town whose name eludes me at the moment. You could always find him in front of the Plymouth Hotel on (West) 49th Street (in Manhattan). He was a drummer of sorts, and although I never knew where he got them, he always had a few scores on him. He sold them for five dollars apiece, and we (Miller and his lieutenants in his band, Hal McIntrye and Chummy MacGregor), bought several.” At page 6. I think that the identity of the notorious arrangement pirate MacGregor referred to is Jack Maisel. Maisel was well-known during the swing era for selling arrangements that were played by many bands. He was also a good drummer who can be heard powering Bunny Berigan’s band in the period from the fall of 1940 into the summer of 1941.

(2) We must balance MacGregor’s recollection with these facts: Glenn Miller was introduced to Eddie Durham by Jimmie Lunceford probably in 1936, when Durham was a member of Lunceford’s band. At that time, Miller was a well-paid member of Ray Noble’s middle-of-the-road dance band, and he was studying music with Joseph Schillinger, trying to come to an understanding of what might be a successful musical formula for a big band of his own. He was also well aware of what Benny Goodman was doing then, and that plus his exposure to the Lunceford/Durham approach to swing were to become significant factors in what later became his orientation to swing in 1939. The final piece, at least insofar as the Durham arrangements Miller bought in 1939, was the powerful influence of the Count Basie band (in which Durham worked in 1937-1938), which began to be felt in the late 1930s throughout the world of swing.

(3) Dennis Spragg, in an email exchange with me as I prepared the post we have collaborated on here, stated: “The handwriting of Glenn Miller, Eddie Durham and Chummy MacGregor are all on (the original score of “In the Mood”), although the main edits are clearly Miller’s. Durham sketched out the closing sequence.” In addition to Miller’s collaborative relationship with Durham, he was in the process of establishing a similar musical relationship with arranger Bill Finegan in 1939. In 1940, he did the same thing with Jerry Gray. In all of those relationships, Miller acted as the ultimate editor of the music his band played.

Glenn Miller always admired the musical precision and spirit of the Jimmie Lunceford band. One of many pieces of on-stage visual business performed by the Lunceford band was their precise, choreographed instrument waving and tossing. At some point after “In the Mood” became a hit, probably when the band was playing at a lot of theaters in the late summer of 1939, Miller started having his bandsmen wave their instruments in choreographed fashion during the quiet riffing that leads to the explosive finale of “In the Mood.”

(4) The Swing Era, the Development of Jazz …1930-1945, by Gunther Schuller (1989), 675.

(5) A part of the story of how Miller persuaded Victor to pay him retroactive royalties on recordings made before early 1940 can be found in the post here at swingandbeyond.com devoted to “Tuxedo Junction,” which like “In the Mood” underwent a remarkable change under the direction of master arrangement editor Glenn Miller. Here is a link to that post:


Here is a link to my review of Dennis Spragg’s fine book Glenn Miller Declassified:


The Glenn Miller recording of “In the Mood” was digitally remastered by Mike Zirpolo.

(*) I wish to thank MusicProf78 for posting the Edgar Hayes recording of “In the Mood” on You Tube.

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