Glenn Miller’s big band plays ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ in 1941

‘Sun Valley Serenade’ is the first of the only two movies featuring ‘The Glenn Miller Orchestra,’ from the 1940s. Besides ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo,’ other Glenn Miller tunes in the film are ‘Moonlight Serenade,’ ‘It Happened in Sun Valley,’ and ‘In the Mood.’

Glenn Miller is warming up on his trombone. A man enters and tells him to stall for time. Glenn says to the band, ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo, run it down again!’ That begins the band’s introduction.

Ths saxophones start up, making a train chugging sound along with the trombones. The beat kicks in with the upright bass. There’s a playful clarinet part that chirps over the melody played by the saxophones.

The trombones and trumpets use plunger-style mutes to make a unique sound that fills the rhythm. The band is dressed in fancy clothes, and there are moments the entire trombone or saxophone section is featured.

A band member walks around the restaurant whistling. He stops by a table, and four men join in harmony, singing, ‘Pardon me, boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?’ The band is now backing the quintet of male singers. They pick up a female at another table, who joins in singing.

The song seems like it is going to fade out, but then it comes back even stronger. The trumpets and trombones take over, blasting out the melody and hits. Then, a new trio of singers and dancers appear.

They sing a verse and chorus, followed by an amazing tap dance routine. The tap shoes play off the band’s rhythm to create a fantastic music experience. The moves are smooth and precise and sound percussive, like an added drum. It is an impressive performance by the band, dancers, and singers!

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