Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Betty Glamann born 21 May 1923

Betty Glamann Voorhees (May 21, 1923 – September 3, 1990) was an American jazz and classical harpist who was born in Wellington, Kansas and began learning harp at the age of ten.

When Betty Glamann was only 13 years old, she was first harpist for a symphony orchestra broadcasting twice weekly on NBC. Her accomplishment of the next few years, were enough to fill out an illustrious career for most musicians. But for Miss Glamann they were merely prelude to the crowning glory, her emergence as one of the world's greatest harpists in the idiom of swing.

Smith - Glamann Quintet
After taking her degree in music at Goucher College and the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland – where she learned to speak Portuguese along with the more conventional French and Spanish – Miss Glamann won a place as harpist with the Baltimore Symphony. She stayed for three years, then gracefully executed a violent switch. From the symphony, she joined Spike Jones and His Orchestra. As a foundation for his element of zaniness, Spike sets rigorous standards of musicianship which only the top layer of professionals have been able to meet.

                     Here's "Bettys Blues" from above album.


Then in another quick reverse, Miss Glamann swung from the delirious plane of Spike Jones to a call from the great lady of theater, Katherine Cornell, to play harp in the Broadway production of Antony and Cleopatra. She followed this with a contract as solo harpist for Jacobowsky and the Colonel starring Tallulah Bankhead.

Meanwhile, Miss Glamann's ear
had begun to bend to jazz, and in her off-hours with other musicians, she applied the idiom to her instrument which previously had been restricted to more angelic sounds. Word began to get around the field about Betty's swinging harp. The late Fred Allen heard one of her remarkable sessions and opened a guest spot for her on a TV show. Garry Moore then did the same and then Steven Allen, always on the search for fresh jazz talent, spotlighted her.

In some of these off-hour sessions with musicians, Miss Glamann began to develop some ideas with Rufus Smith, the respected arranger and jazz bassist, about a quintet build around new sounds of the harp. The group was a sock success on Arthur Godfrey's TV shows. Then in 1955, after the incomparable Duke Ellington heard her, he added a place for the harp in his orchestra for the first time in his 30-year career and appointed Betty Glamann to the enviable place in his orchestra as did Marian McPartland and then Oscar Pettiford in whose band we hear her in 1957 radio broadcasts and his 1958 album “In Hi-Fi Volume Two.”

She recorded on the Kenny Dorham album Jazz Contrasts in 1957 and was involved in a Michel Legrand recording session with John Coltrane and Miles Davis. She played with Eddie Costa in 1958 and with the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1960. She recorded two albums under her own name: "Poinciana" (with her Smith-Glamann Quintet ) and "Swinging on a Harp" (with the cooperation of Rufus Smith, among others). She was also in the Steve Allen Show TV orchestra.

I cannot find any information about her latter years except that in 1972  Betty played harp on the Johnny Lytle album “People & Love.” And that dear music lovers is where her trail goes cold until the announcement of her death in Stamford, Connecticut, 1990. 

(A big thank you to Mark Betcher @ Unearthed In The Atomic Attic for most of the information. Remainder mainly from Wikipedia.)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

I couldn't find Betty's album "Swinging On a harp" but did manage to find a few others.

For “The Smith Glamann Quintet – Poinciana” go here;

(password: egroj)

(3:05) 1. Poinciana
(2:06) 2. Liza
(3:34) 3. Laura
(2:33) 4. Harp Capers
(2:53) 5. Lotus Land
(1:52) 6. Now Get Out
(3:07) 7. The Boy Next Door
(2:21) 8. Stompin' At The Savoy
(2:11) 9. September Song
(2:47) 10. Ragtime Mambo
(3:19) 11. That's All
(2:00) 12. Pulling Strings

A big thank you to Egroj @ Egroj World for active link.

For “Michel Legrand - Legrand Jazz (1958)” go here:


Folder contains ape. file with cue.

01. The Jitterbug Waltz
02. Nuages
03. A Night in Tunisia
04. Blue and Sentimental
05. Stompin' at the Savoy
06. Django
07. Wild Man Blues
08. Rosetta
09. 'Round Midnight
10. Don't Get Around Much Anymore
11. In a Mist

Michel Legrand (conductor-arranger);
Phil Woods, Gene Quill (alto sax);
John Coltrane, Seldon Powell, Ben Webster (tenor sax);
Jerome Richardson (baritone sax, bass clarinet);
Teo Macero (baritone sax);
Frank Rehak, Bill Byers, Jimmy Cleveland, Ernie Royal, Art Farmer, Donald Byrd, Joe Wilder, Miles Davis (trumpet);
James Buffington (French horn);
Eddie Bert (trombone);
Major Holly (tuba, bass);
Herbie Mann (flute);
Betty Glamann (harp);
Eddie Costa, Don Elliot (vibraphone);
Barry Galbraith (guitar);
Bill Evans, Nat Pierce, Hank Jones (piano);
Milt Hinton, Paul Chambers, George Duvivier (bass);
Kenny Davis, Osie Johnson, Don Lamond (drums).

A big thank you to the original uploader @ jazz.ru for active link.