The first GLENN MILLER ORCHESTRA didn't make it at all. It was a total and absolute economic failure. But Glenn knew what he wanted, held to that dedication, and relentlessly worked to succeed. He launched his second band - the one that lives on today - in March of 1938. It's been a hit ever since.
The legendary Glenn Miller was one of the most successful of all the dance bandleaders back in the Swing era of the 1930s and '40s. A matchless string of hit records, the constant impact of radio broadcasts, and the drawing power at theatres, hotels, and dance pavilions built and sustained the momentum of popularity. Glenn disbanded his musical organization in 1942, at the height of its popularity, volunteered for the Army, and then organized and led the famous Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band. It went to Europe to entertain servicemen, and then, on December 15, 1944, Major Miller took off in a single-engine plane from England to precede his band to France, never to be seen again. The army declared him officially dead a year later.
Because of popular demand, the Miller Estate authorized the formation of the present Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1956 under the direction of drummer Ray McKinley, who had become the unofficial leader of the Army Air Force Band after Glenn's disappearance.
Since then, other leaders have followed Ray including clarinetists Buddy DeFranco and Peanuts Hucko, trombonists Buddy Morrow, Jimmy Henderson, and Larry O'Brien, and tenor saxophonist Dick Gerhart.
The 19-member band continues to play many of the original Miller arrangements that keep exciting fans who have not heard them played for a while. Additionally, they are also playing more modern selections in the big-band style, carefully selecting only those newer tunes that lend themselves naturally to the Miller style and sound, carefully selected pieces that will stay around for a while. The entire repertoire, which now exceeds 1,700 compositions, keeps the band popular with both young and old. Most of the band's shows are sell-outs. It has proven staying power, and its popularity has never seemed to wane. Indeed, the Glenn Miller Orchestra today is still the most sought after big-band in the world, just as it was in Glenn's day.
New York Times music critic John S. Wilson called Ken Peplowski "a clarinetist with a Benny Goodman tone and a Buddy DeFranco style."
As Ken was a member of Goodman's working orchestra, the comparison is not surprising.
Ken already casts a long shadow in the music world. He has an astounding 16 solo albums with the prestigious Concord Jazz recording label. Always a top contender in Down Beat's critics and readers polls, Ken tours the globe 12 months a year performing in the top jazz clubs, performing arts center, jazz festivals, and symphony halls. Ken's most recent compact discs on Koch Jazz, All This… and ...And Heaven Too, were recorded live in London.
Ken made local radio and television appearances and played orchestral and jazz arrangements before joining the Tommy Dorsey Band under the direction of Buddy Morrow in 1978.
During the '80s he began recording and performing with musicians as diverse as Mel Tormé, Charlie Byrd, Peggy Lee, George Shearing, Tom Harrell, Hank Jones, Leon Redbone, Woody Allen, Erich Kunzel, and Rosemary Clooney. Then, in 1984, Benny Goodman put together a new big band to do some touring. Benny personally auditioned Ken and hired him as a tenor saxophonist.
In 1988, Carl Jefferson, the founder and President of Concord Records, tapped Ken to record his first solo album entitled Double Exposure. The title calls attention to his proficiency on both clarinet and tenor saxophone. Fifteen albums followed, including The Natural Touch in 1992, for which he won the Deutsche Schallplatten Prize for Best Jazz Record of the Year.
In addition to his great musicianship, Ken is regarded as an extremely entertaining performer. His warmth, wit, and humor delight audiences. Ken resides in New York with his wife Kerstin and their son Jeffrey.
Here is their official website: www.glennmillerorchestra.com.