Big Time Big Band

local drummer lands dream gig with Glenn Miller Orchestra

Thom Fountain, photos by Andrea Paulseth

LETTING IT RIDE (CYMBAL). Mike Malone playing with Malonious Thunk at the State Theatre. Malone will be joining the Glenn Miller Orchestra this summer as their drummer.
LETTING IT RIDE (CYMBAL). Mike Malone playing with Malonious Thunk at the State Theatre. Malone will be joining the Glenn Miller Orchestra this summer as their drummer.

Mike Malone has been making his mark on the Eau Claire jazz scene as a drummer and band leader for the last few years, playing with UW-Eau Claire’s premiere group, Jazz I, founding his own group, Malonious Thunk, and sitting in at venues around the area with some of the best jazz players the Chippewa Valley has to offer.

Well, now our hidden gem has been discovered. Malone will be joining and touring with the Glenn Miller Orchestra starting this summer. The group has been one of the most sought-after and lauded jazz bands in the nation since its founding in 1956 and plays around 300 gigs a year.

“I hope to take the experience from touring with this legendary orchestra and apply it to a professional career performing in the jazz circuit,” Malone said in a university press release.

Malone, a UWEC student who hails from Oshkosh, said he applied for the spot with a few YouTube videos of him playing with Jazz I live and got a call a few weeks later with the news. Bob Baca, UWEC’s jazz director, encouraged Malone to audition. He’s already made a splash in Eau Claire with his jazz group Malonious Thunk, who released their debut record earlier this year and have been gigging around the city. Malone has also gained experience from sitting in with other local jazz players at local restaurants and events.

“This will be a game changer in Mike’s career,” Baca said in the press release. “This opportunity provides him with a substantial credential for other large performance opportunities with major artists because all commercial music is tied to jazz in some way and Mike has become an accomplished jazz drummer.”
The Glenn Miller Orchestra tours relentlessly, sharing their unique brand of jazz and swing around the country behind director Nick Hilscher.

If you’d like to see Malone with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the group is coming to Milwaukee’s Pabst Theatre on Aug. 24, or you can find a full tour schedule online at GlennMillerOrchestra.com. If you want to grab a taste of success before he takes off, pick up the latest release from Malonious Thunk, Overalls And Airplanes, available at The Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St.

Press and hold the up/down arrows to scroll.