Tex Beneke: In the Mood for Big-Band Music at the Palladium : Nostalgia: Veteran of the original Glenn Miller aggregation kicks off ‘Golden Salute to Big Band Dancing’ series tonight.
The Hollywood Palladium, which opened on Oct. 31, 1940, with Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra and singer Frank Sinatra as the starring attractions, featured dance bands six nights until the mid-'50s. Such artists as Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Stan Kenton and Les Brown were mainstays at the 40,000-square-foot hall that was a hangout for such silver screen types as Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable and Lana Turner. Turner told the Times’ Jack Hawn in 1984 that the Palladium was a place where “young ladies could walk in alone and know we weren’t going to . . . you know, be picked up.”
This summer, as part of its 50th anniversary, the Palladium is hosting a “Golden Salute to Big Band Dancing,” which will feature bands once a month. Saxophonist-singer Tex Beneke kicks off the series tonight; he’s followed by a Tribute to Duke Ellington with Herb Jeffries and Louie Bellson, July 27, the Harry James Orchestra, Aug. 10 and Peanuts Hucko and a Big Band Salute to Benny Goodman, Sept. 21. (Information: (213) 962-7600.)
Beneke, who says he averages about three dates a month nowadays, achieved fame with Miller in the late ‘30s, recording tenor sax solos on such hits as “In the Mood,” and occasionally singing, as on “Chattanooga Choo-Choo.” In 1946, under the aegis of the estate of the bandleader--whose plane disappeared on a flight from London to Paris in 1944 and was never found--Beneke took over the Miller band and played all over the U.S.A., including the Palladium.
“We set a record there with 7,000 people in the audience in 1946,” says Beneke, 76, who has been leading his own band since 1950.
Beneke says he left the Miller organization because “I was just a front man and I wanted to make some real money. I still play a lot of music associated with the band and I sometimes say I play music in ‘The Miller Mood’ or ‘The Miller Style.’ But since there is another official Glenn Miller band (led by trombonist Buddy Morrow), I’m watched like a hawk to see how I’m advertising. If a client says Tex Beneke and the Glenn Miller band, I’ll get sued,” he laughs.
Beneke, who will work Disneyland’s Carnation Plaza Gardens on September 29-30, loves to play places like the theme park because the dance floor is “filled with younger people dancing together,” he says. “They finally found out what they been missing, dancing 20 feet apart. They’ve also discovered that there are songs with more than three chord (changes). They’re having a ball.”
As is Beneke. “This band is the best group I’ve ever had together,” he says. “It swings like crazy.”
MORE DISNEYLAND: The park has been spotlighting big bands each summer since the park opened in 1955 and has some ace ensembles on its current roster. The Frank Foster-led Count Basie Orchestra works tonight through June 30 and Les Brown and his band of Renown is in July 1-7. Information: (213) 626-8605.
NANCY TAPES AGAIN: Singer Nancy Wilson tapes the latest four segments syndicated television show, “Red, Hot & Cool,” Sunday at Biltmore Hotel’s Grand Avenue Bar. The tapings for the show--which airs Mondays, 1:30 a.m. on KCAL (Ch. 9)--will feature pianist Ahmad Jamal, the band co-led by keyboardist George Duke and bassist Stanley Clarke, saxophonist Najee and singer Dianne Schuur. Free admission to the tapings is limited and by reservation only. Call (213) 849-3004.
Wilson is no stranger to hosting TV shows. She had her first show, “Skyline Melody,” when she was a teen-ager in Columbus, Ohio, and starred on “The Nancy Wilson Show” on KNBC in 1975. “Red, Hot & Cool” is all music--no interviewing, just two sets (one with Wilson, the other with her guest).
Bassist Pat Senatore, formerly owner/operator of Pasquale’s nightclub in Malibu, is talent coordinator for the show, which is produced by S.I. Communications in Burbank. “It’s a jazz show and I’m trying to line up the best people,” he says. “Players like Diz, Miles, they’ve all said they’d do it, it’s just a matter of coordinating their availability.”
The producers are hoping KCAL can find a better time slot for the show, which is seen in 42 markets. “There are no new time slots currently available but we are evaluating our fall schedule,” says KCAL Programming Director Matt Cooperstein.
This Monday, the program features saxman Stanley Turrentine; on July 2, it’s saxman Gerald Albright.
TOP 10 JAZZ LPs
1. Time on My Hands--John Scofield
2. Deep in the Shed--Marcus Roberts
3. Parallel Realities--Jack DeJohnette
4. Stolen Moments--Lee Ritenour
5. Remembrance--The Harper Brothers
6. Falling in Love With Jazz--Sonny Rollins
7. Carmen Sings Monk--Carmen McRae
8. Where Were You?--Joey DeFrancesco
9. Reunion--Gary Burton
10. For You Only--Marlon Jordan