“Here We Go Again”
Composed and arranged by Jerry Gray.
Recorded by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra for Victor on July 14, 1942 in Chicago.
Glenn Miller, first trombone, directing: R.D. “Mickey” McMickle, first trumpet; Steve Lipkins, John Best and Billy May, trumpets; Paul Tanner, Jimmy Priddy and Frankie D’Annolfo, trombones; Lloyd “Skip” Martin, first alto saxophone; Wilbur Schwartz, alto saxophone; Al Klink and Gordon “Tex” Beneke, tenor saxophones; Ernesto “Ernie” Caceres, baritone saxophone; J. Chalmers “Chummy” MacGregor, piano; Robert L. “Bobby” Hackett, guitar; Edward “Doc” Goldberg, bass; Maurice “Moe” Purtill, drums.
History is a series of moments. Hundreds if not thousands of happenings bring people to certain moments in their lives. In the case of Glenn Miller, the happenings in his life as a bandleader began to become more favorable gradually through early 1939. By mid-year, those favorable happenings began to occur more frequently. By early 1940, the favorable happenings in Glenn Miller’s professional career went from a steady stream to a veritable Niagara. And that breakneck pace continued for the next two and a half years.
If ever a bandleader was prepared to create and then deal successfully with this flood of opportunities, it was Glenn Miller. First of all, he was a healthy, strong person physically. If he hadn’t been, the crush of work he did from 1939 to late September of 1942 would have levelled him. He was also still a relatively young man during this period. Miller’s 35th birthday, on March 1, 1939, is for many reasons the logical starting point for his life as a successful bandleader. He was also old enough by then to have lived through many experiences in the band business over the previous dozen-plus years: first as a sideman in other leaders’ bands, then as a “strawboss” for other leaders, who assisted them in the daily business of running a band, and also as a capable arranger who understood what worked musically for various audiences. Miller definitely knew about the music part of the music business. But of equal importance, he definitely knew about the business part of the music business.
Chummy MacGregor and Hal McIntyre have breakfast with Glenn Miller – summer 1941. McIntyre and MacGregor often acted as intermediaries between Miller and the musicians in his band.
Finally, Miller had the personality of a leader. Although he could be forceful when he thought that was necessary, he did not often use intimidation as a tool to control the musicians in his band as Tommy Dorsey did very frequently, and as Benny Goodman did too frequently. It seems that Miller established a code of discipline for his band members early on, and then continued to follow that code, being assisted by his lieutenants, Hal McIntyre and to a lesser degree, Chummy MacGregor. (Some of the musicians in the Miller band, with sarcastic humor, referred to them as “the Gestapo.”)(1) But after success engulfed Miller and his musicians, it was understood by the band members that they had jobs that were among the best-paying in the music business. So in order to keep those jobs, they for the most part provided their own discipline. Despite some complaining by Miller’s sidemen about his discipline long after his civilian band played its last note, there was very little turnover among the musicians in his band during their years of great success.
Miller sidemen pose at Twentieth Century Fox film studio in Hollywood – late March 1942. L-R: Willie Schwartz, Billy May, Chuck Goldstein(*), Hal “Spooky” Dickinson(*), Jackie Gleason, Jimmy Priddy, Frankie D’Annolfo, Bobby Hackett, Al Klink and Bill Conway(*). (*) Members of the Modernaires singing group. Jackie Gleason was then a struggling entertainer trying to find his place in show business. He appeared in the film Orchestra Wives as the bassist in the Miller band.
The summer of 1942 was the last one Miller’s civilian band would have together. Miller broke up this band near the end of September of that year and entered the U.S. Army Air Force. But in the months before the summer of ’42, the Miller band was very busy, as usual. Here is a summary of their work schedule from the end of January until the July 14 Victor recording date that produced “Here We Go Again”: January 28 – February 17 – Paramount Theater in New York; they played 5 or 6 one-hour shows each day during that stand; February 18 – March 4, one-nighters; March 5 – 11, Capitol Theater, Washington, D.C. 4 or 5 one hour shows each day; March 12-13, concerts at the Chicago Civic Opera House; March 14-17, train travel from Chicago to Los Angeles; March 23, start work on Fox film Orchestra Wives; May 16; one-nighter at Long Beach Civic Auditorium; May 22, end work on film; May 23-26, train to Chicago; May 28 – June 8, one-nighters in the Midwest then back to NYC on June 9; one-nighters in the northeast June 12-18; June 19-28, vacation, except continue working on thrice a week CBS Chesterfield radio show broadcasts; July 3-6, one-nighters back to Chicago; July 7, open ten day stay at the Panther Room of Hotel Sherman in Chicago; Victor recording sessions July 14, 15 and 16.(2) Despite this backbreaking schedule of work and travel, the Miller band also continued to perform on their network radio show throughout this entire period. (Above left – Miller sidemen L-R: John Best, Bobby Hackett and Skip Martin – spring 1942, Los Angeles.)
The music: “Here We Go Again” “…is a blues with a break – the same device that led to ‘Johnny B. Goode’ and the rest of those 1950s R 7 B titles.”(3) The composition/arrangement was written by the masterful Jerry Gray. It comes on blasting, with the eight brass underlined by the five reeds in the introduction. Then the series of twelve bar blues choruses start: the first has the open trumpets playing a melodic fragment, accompanied by the four trombones going oo-ah, and the five saxophones playing their own rhythmic fragment. Ernie Caceres’s playing on baritone saxophone is particularly robust in this sequence. After a brassy break, tenor saxophonist Al Klink steps out with two tasty and swinging blues choruses, the brass section bouncing along merrily behind him. Trumpeter Billy May follows playing through the break before embarking on his blues chorus. His sectionmate and friend John Best follows playing his chorus with a more burnished trumpet sound.
The next series of blues choruses begins with the brass playing through the break, shaded by the five saxophones. Then the saxophones go for themselves with a rollicking and impeccably played one chorus soli. The brass-led ensemble then plays hide and seek with drummer Moe Purtill (listen for first trumpeter Mickey McMickle’s stinging trumpet and commanding phrasing). (Above right drummer Moe Purtill; behind him L-R are Willie Schwartz, Glenn Miller’s hands, torso and trombone, and Frankie D’Annolfo.)
The build-up to the finale is a series of three-way riffs handled with swinging aplomb by the saxophones, the trombones and the oo-ah trumpets. They continue building momentum atop the rocking back-beats played by Purtill. The high-register trumpet at the end is McMickle.
I agree with jazz historian and musician Loren Schoenberg who has said: “If it had to be judged solely on the basis of the real unity of swing achieved in (this performance), this group would certainly deserve to be counted among the best jazz-oriented bands of the period.”(4)
The recording presented here was digitally remastered by Mike Zirpolo.
Notes and links:
(1) The Story of America’s Most Unforgettable Bandleader …Glenn Miler and His Orchestra, by George T. Simon (1974), 111.
(2) Moonlight Serenade …A Bio-discography of the Glenn Miller Civilian Band, by John Flower (1972), 411-462.
(3) Liner notes for the Bluebird CD Glenn Miller and His Orchestra …Swinging Instrumentals …The Spirit is Willing, 66529-2 (1995), by Loren Schoenberg.
Here are links to more great performances by Glenn Miller: