One of the mainstays of the big band circuit, the Glenn Miller Orchestra actually spent a mere half a decade with its namesake at the helm. Miller built his his legendary band, with its unique clarinet-centric signature sound in 1938. But by 1942, he was making music for the United States Armed Forces, struggling to add jazz touches to traditional military marching band music. Two years later, while still in the service, Glenn disappeared somewhere over the English Channel. Two years after that, Glenn's estate drafted sax player/vocalist Tex Beneke to lead the first Miller "ghost" orchestra.
Under Beneke, the new band achieved a success that rivaled the original, even during a period that saw an overall decline in big band popularity. But Tex's attempts to expand and modernize the Miller sound (and to push himself to the forefront) led to conflicts with management, and finally to a parting of the ways. Successive leaders-for-hire cleaved much more faithfully to the hit Miller sound.
1966 saw the ascent of celebrated jazz clarinetist Buddy DeFranco to the group's lead spot. I don't know if it was a sign of the times, or if the death of Glenn Miller's spouse that same year had anything to do with it, but the estate loosened the reigns of DeFranco enough to allow him to take some liberties with the franchise. But rather than enfusing the Miller sound with, say, bebop, DeFranco steered the band in the direction of contemporary pop. Embracing the electric discotheque scene of the period, DeFranco turned in such albums as "Something New" for Epic, and "Do You Wanna Dance?" for Command, the landmark label started by Enoch Light.
Wedding the Miller big band style and DeFranco's top-notch soloing to go-go dance rhythms, lush easy-listening atmospherics and Command's trademark high-tech aural experience, the album is no mere nostalgia trip for aging jitterbuggers. Rock fans will delight as this august organization tackles such teenage hits as "Cinnamon," "Sunny," "For Once In My Life" and "Love Child." Naturally, the ubiquitous McCartney-Lennon catalog is represented, not once but twice, with "Hey Jude" and "A Little Help From My Friends." In fact, there's not a MOR track anywhere to be found on this album -- it's all strictly Top Forty. Do YOU wanna dance?