That last blog prompted me to check on the Glenn Miller sound. In answer to the question "What did Glenn Miller discover by accident?" I found this entry here.
Well, it wasn't really by accident. Like most "luck" it occurred because he was well-prepared.
During his time as an arranger for the Ray Noble orchestra, he developed an arranging style that carried the melody on an alto sax and trumpet playing a musical third apart, with harmony provided by the tenor sax.
Unfortunately Noble's trumpeter was unable to play some of the higher notes (due to a lack of ability, NOT an injury as shown in the 1954 movie with Jimmy Stewart). Miller rescored the harmony by replacing the trumpet with a clarinet. The result was an almost organ-like blend that was instantly recognisable and became known as the "Miller Sound".
That special arranging style was helped immensely when Miller formed his own band and hired Wilbur Schwartz to play clarinet. Schwartz had a full, "broad" tone that few other musicians could match, and it produced a more robust sound.
For the first couple of years Miller had the blend amplified by addition of a second alto sax to the melodic line, but around the start of 1942 he switched the harmony to one alto and one tenor sax, creating a deeper voicing as is heard on performances of that period (e.g. "Moonlight Mood").
When he joined the Army Air Force in late 1942 and formed the AAF Orchestra he was unable to bring Wilbur Schwartz with him, so the clarinet part was assigned to Michael "Peanuts" Hucko. Hucko was an excellent musician but never had the same tone as Schwartz; however the reed blend was maintained by an expanded sax section (SIX reeds) and frequent accompaniment by the string section.
Shortly before his disappearance, Maj. Miller said that he felt he was becoming trapped by listeners' wishes to keep hearing the reed blend, and he tried to move the orchestra's sound in a different direction. The long-suppressed commercial recordings that he made with Dinah Shore in late 1944 have only the barest hint of the reed sound.
Of course, we will never know what more we would have heard, had the Major's plane made it to Paris on that terrible afternoon in December.