The American Band of the Allied Expeditionary Force conducted by Major Glenn Miller
featuring Dinah Shore, Irene Manning, Johnny Desmond and Ray McKinley
Alton Glenn Miller (March 1, 1904 – missing in action December 15, 1944) was an American big band musician, arranger, composer, and bandleader in the swing era. He was one of the best-selling recording artists from 1939 to 1943, leading one of the best known big bands. Miller's notable recordings include "In the Mood", "Moonlight Serenade", "Pennsylvania 6-5000", "Chattanooga Choo Choo", "A String of Pearls", "At Last", "(I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo", "American Patrol", "Tuxedo Junction", and "Little Brown Jug".
In 1942, at the peak of his civilian career, Miller decided to join the war effort. At 38, Miller was too old to be drafted, and he persuaded the United States Army to accept him so he could, in his own words, "be placed in charge of a modernized Army band." After being accepted into the Army, Miller's civilian band played its last concert in Passaic, New Jersey, on September 27, 1942. His patriotic intention of entertaining the Allied Forces with the fusion of virtuosity and dance rhythms in his music earned him the rank of Captain and he was soon promoted to Major by August 1944.
Miller initially formed a large marching band that was to be the core of a network of service orchestras. His attempts at modernizing military music were met with some resistance from tradition-minded career officers. For example, Miller's arrangement of "St. Louis Blues March", combined blues and jazz with the traditional military march. Miller's weekly radio broadcast "I Sustain the Wings", for which he co-wrote the eponymous theme song, moved from New Haven to New York City and was very popular. This led to permission for Miller to form his 50-piece Army Air Force Band and take it to England in the summer of 1944, where he gave 800 performances. While in England, Major Miller recorded a series of records at EMI owned Abbey Road Studios.
There were also the Miller-led AEF Orchestra-recorded songs with American singer Dinah Shore and other singers. These were done at the Abbey Road studios and were the last recorded songs made by the band while being led by Miller. They were stored with HMV/EMI for fifty years, never being released until their copyright expired in Europe in 1994. This double CD set is a compilation of those recordings made between September and November, 1944.
While he was traveling to entertain U.S. troops in France during World War II, Glenn Miller's aircraft disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel. In the mid-1940s, after Miller's disappearance, the Miller-led Army Air Force band was decommissioned and sent back to the United States. "The chief of the European theater asked [Warrant Officer Harold Lindsay] Lin [Arinson] to put together another band to take its place, and that's when the 314 was formed." According to singer Tony Bennett who sang with it while in the service, the 314 was the immediate successor to the Glenn Miller led AAF orchestra. The Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band's long term legacy has carried on with the Airmen of Note, a band within the United States Air Force Band. This band was created in 1950 from smaller groups within the Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. and continues to play jazz music for the Air Force community and the general public. The legacy also continues through The United States Air Forces in Europe Band, stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.