Oral Histories

Interview of Paul Tanner

Trombonist and member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Inventor of the electro-theremin and UCLA lecturer of music.
Jazz Musician, Jazz Educator
Cline, Alex
Tanner, Paul
Persons Present:
Tanner and Cline.
Place Conducted:
Tanner's home in Rancho La Costa, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Alex Cline, editor, UCLA Oral History Program; musician. Cline prepared for the interview by consulting biographical information pulled from book and newspaper sources supplied by Tanner, publications on Glenn Miller such as George T. Simon's Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, and Tanner's textbook, A Study of Jazz.
Processing of Interview:
Peter Looney, Gold Shield intern, edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed. Tanner reviewed the transcripts. He verified proper names and made minor corrections. Cline prepared the table of contents and interview history. Kathleen McAlister, editorial assistant, assembled the biographical summary. Peter Limbrick, editorial assistant, compiled the index.
4.65 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Attraction to the trombone; traveling on the road with the Kentuckians, the Tanner family band; Glenn Miller hires Tanner to play in the Glenn Miller orchestra; Miller band's rise to fame; racial issues and the swing bands; Miller's business acumen; Miller's death; playing with the Les Brown, Charlie Spivak, and Tex Beneke bands; the arrival of bebop; reasons for deciding to study music at UCLA on the GI Bill; working in the studios and going to school; UCLA employs Tanner immediately after his graduation; playing with prominent classical musicians and orchestras; Tanner's Ph.D. dissertation; begins teaching Development of Jazz course; notable guest artists who appeared in the class; writing the textbook A Study of Jazz; controversy over whether jazz should be taught in an academic setting; the neo-traditionalist phase in present-day jazz; reasons for leaving teaching position at UCLA; decision to quit the trombone; swing music is superseded by rock and roll; traveling the world to lecture about Glenn Miller, the swing era, and jazz; Benny Goodman; serves as an expert witness in court cases.