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Battles with one winner - music.

Byline: Stan Woolley

IT'S BILLED as Big Band Crazy but in more basic terms - or should that be Basie - it's the Limey versus the Yank, a battle of the bands but with a difference.

The Yank in question is John Miller, nephew of the legendary Glenn Miller, and the Limey is local boy made good, Andy Prior from Leigh, Lancashire.

There is nothing new about battle of the band shows which started back in New Orleans where jazz was born at the beginning of the last century.

Such set-tos were a means of publicity and it often enabled the winner to charge a higher fee for its services.

Several such encounters have been captured on record - Duke Ellington's and Count Basie's skirmish is still talked about and even the bands of our own Ted Heath and Edmundo Ross once famously locked horns in musical combat in the studio of Decca Records.

However, on this occasion instead of two bands battling it out to the final encore there is just one orchestra and it is the bandleaders who go head-tohead and take turns with the baton.

The object of the exercise is for the leaders - both of whom are excellent vocalists, incidentally - to out-do the other in producing bigger and better sounds, lush or loud, depending on the requirements of the arrangement.

Despite their different backgrounds, the two bandleaders are a well matched pair. John Miller is always referred to as Glenn Miller's nephew although he is the son of the late Herb Miller, Glenn's trumpet-playing younger brother.

Herb wasn't as musically gifted as Glenn but was a useful section man in his time.

In his later years, Herb moved to the UK and formed a Glenn Miller-style orchestra. Still known as the Herb Miller Orchestra, it is now fronted by his son John.

Singer and trombonist Andy Prior, also the son of a bandleader, came to prominence through the ranks of the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra where he played in the trombone section and sang Frank Sinatra style songs.

His good looks, ready wit, vocal talents and natural abilities helped in no small way when he decided to form his own band, the very successful Night Owls.

Prior and his band are now in constant demand and his Magic of Sinatra show sells out everywhere it plays and has proved so popular that he will tour again in November.

However, before that he has been invited to front the Billy May Orchestra at a music convention in Las Vegas in June.

The dates are still to be confirmed but this indicates the standing which Andy Prior now enjoys in the big band world.

Big Band Crazy may be a battle of a kind but one thing is certain - the music is sure to be a clear winner, The Big Band Crazy show plays at Southport Theatre, April 6; Parr Hall, Warrington, April 20; Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, April 27.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 8, 2002
Words:488
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