WHO: The Glenn Miller Orchestra
WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College
And the band played on!
After Count Basie died, the Basie band continued. Woody Herman's departure didn't stop the Thundering Herd. And even though Glenn Miller, the master of the swing mood, went down with his plane during World War II, an orchestra continues in his name.
Formed in 1956, the Glenn Miller Orchestra has had at least one impact on Buffalo: On July 20, 1984, thanks to the orchestra, the city found its way into the Guinness Book of World Records for "Largest Dance." Twenty-five thousand people, Guinness reports, danced to the music of the Glenn Miller Orchestra on a specially designed 450-foot-long dance floor.
No one's trying to top that record on Thursday at Rockwell Hall. But it will be a night for nostalgia, as director Larry O'Brien leads the 19-member band through a sampling from its huge repertoire (which, at last count, embraced 1,700 compositions).
Many of the arrangements the band plays are Miller's own. And how sweet they are: Glenn Miller, along with the other "sweet bands" of the '40s, epitomized the suave side of swing. The gentle riffs of "In the Mood," "The White Cliffs of Dover" and, of course, "Moonlight Serenade" -- all of them recall the days when the jitterbug was king.
The orchestra has added modern selections, numbers like "September Morn," "The Body Electric" and "Up Where We Belong." Nostalgia rules, though, in many ways. A guy singer and girl singer perform with the band. And saxophones and clarinets team up for those Glenn Miller sonorities.
The band still plays about 300 dates a year, traveling 100,000 miles a year. Its leader would be proud to know his legacy lives on.
-- Mary Kunz