Date: 25 July 2004
Venue: The Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver.

Reviewer: John Jane





Conductor: Larry O'Brien

Glenn Miller
1904 - 1944

The Glenn Miller Orchestra, now owned by Glenn Miller Productions has been in existence since Miller himself founded the band in 1938. The band now tours extensively in homage to its namesake and his distinctive sound.

Miller, whose devotees celebrated the 100th anniversary of his birth this year, was a trombone player, arranger and band leader, who when only forty, died in a plane crash over the English Channel at the end of WWII.

Larry O’Brien now leads the nineteen member band of high-calibre musicians who hail from Texas to Alaska and a number of states in between. The troupe also includes two vocalists, Julia Rich and Nick Hilscher. The seventy-year-old musical director has assembled a group of musicians that seem capable of directing themselves.

O’Brien’s style can be described as ‘minimalist’. He rarely stands at centre stage, rather off to the side, tending to onstage details such as adjusting the microphones. His occasional subtle gestures might indicate the next soloist or shift in musical dynamics. O’Brien will frequently lend his trombone on a few tunes, as he did with ‘Danny Boy’ which also featured base player Aaron Miller. Base players are too often overlooked, but this young bassist was given every opportunity to be noticed.




The music was as smooth as silk. From the opening strains of ‘Moonlight Serenade’ right up to the encore, the band put the audience “In The Mood”. As one might expect, the guys stuck mostly with the standards - timeless tunes like ‘Little Brown Jug’, ‘Pennsylvania 6-5000', and ‘Tuxedo Junction’ that defined the Miller era. They also remained faithful to his original arrangements with thirteen musicians making up the brass section. The exception was my personal favourite, ‘Perfidia’, which featured the entire trombone unit.

Julia Rich & the band

Twenty-year band veteran from Nashville, Julia Rich, charmed the audience out of their seats with Gershwin’s ‘Fascinating Rhythm’. Rich’s voice was reminiscent of that of Marion Hutton - the ‘girl singer’ with the original orchestra.

Male vocalist Nick Hilscher who performed ‘At Last’ has the same easy singing style as our own Michael Bublé, but with a little less energy and flair.

Though Glenn Miller is no longer with us, his unique music certainly is. During his short lifetime, he brought the enjoyment of swing to millions of people and through the new Glenn Miller Orchestra. His legacy will continue for some time to come.

© 2004, John Jane