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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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WOODY HERMAN

The Third Herd ‘Live’ 1952 

Acrobat Music ADDCD3083

 

 


CD1
1. I Would Do Anything for You
2. Love Is Here to Stay
3. Wish You Were Here
4. East of the Sun
5. Baby Clementine
6. Stars Fell on Alabama
7. Harlem Nocturne
8. Moten Swing
9. Nice Work if You Can Get It
10. You Belong to Me
11. This Is New
12. The Goof and I
13. I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me
14. Early Autumn
15. Blues in Advance
16. Woodchoppers Ball
 
CD2
1. Terressita
2. Medley:
a. I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me
b. Somewhere along the Way
3. I May Be Wrong
4. He’s Funny That Way
5. Medley:
a. Amen
b. Who Dat up Dere
c. Laura
d. Caldonia
6. Trouble in Mind
7. Half as Much
8. Make Believe Dreams
9. The Blues  

Probable personnel
Woody Herman - Alto sax, clarinet, vocals (CD 1: tracks 6, 10, 15; CD 2: tracks 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d, 9)
Dick Hafer, Arno Marsh, Bill Perkins - Tenor sax
Sam Staff - Baritone sax, flute
Roy Caton, Phil Cook, Don Fagerquist, Lee Fortier, John Howell, Stu Williamson - Trumpet
Carl Fontana, Jack Green, Urbie Green - Trombone
Nat Pierce - Piano
Frank Gallagher, Chubby Jackson - Bass
Art Mardigan, Sonny Igoe - Drums
Dolly Houston - Vocals (CD 1: tracks 3, 5, 13; CD 2: tracks 2a, 2b, 3, 4)
Dinah Washington - Vocals (CD 2: tracks 6, 7, 8, 9)

 

The performances on these CD’s come from the archives of the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation (not “Federation,” as the Acrobat people keep mislabelling it), and definite discographical data is unavailable. The liner notes indicate the year is almost certainly 1952, and according to information that came with the original tapes, both performances took place in Portland, Oregon, that of CD 1 being a dance date, CD 2 a stage show. In fact, given there are two vocalists on CD 2, it would seem probable that there were two shows involved as it is unlikely that both Houston and Washington would be on the same bill.

Of the two vocalists, Dolly Houston is not very well known and, as the liner notes advise, “little or no biographical information [is] to be found about [her].” Apparently she began her recording career with the Goodman Septet in 1948 and then appeared with Herman from 1951 until the disbanding of the Third Herd in 1955 and followed that with a year with Dorsey. She is an adequate big band singer, although her voice seems a little small. I wouldn’t classify her as a jazz singer, but she does well enough on ballads.

Dinah Washington, on the other hand, is a well known and very popular vocalist of the time, but little is known of the background to her performance here with Herman. There can be no doubt she is a jazz singer, as the three tracks she has to herself on the second CD attest, lying behind the beat and bending notes at will. The eighth track, Make Believe Dreams, does not, to me, live up to the introduction she gives it, but the other two are standards that she makes her own.

While considering vocals, it is fair to say that Herman, himself, is a more-than-adequate singer, unlike so many musicians and leaders who fancy themselves as such but fall a good bit short. On Caldonia, however, he tries to be a bit too much like Cab Calloway for my liking.

Almost all of the fare on these two discs will be familiar, other perhaps, than This Is New and Blues in Advance, the latter sounding a little like I Get the Blues When It Rains. They are given the treatment so common to most of Herman’s Herds-swinging ensembles, with much brass punctuation, accented by drums. The listener will certainly not die of boredom listening to these tracks. Even on a piece as familiar as what could be Herman’s signature tune, his hit composition Woodchoppers Ball,the arrangement as well as the execution gives it new life. There are unusual stops by brass and drums, and the familiar riff is given a minor cast in the out choruses, all lending interest.

Herman buffs will certainly want to add these hitherto unreleased recordings to their collections.

Acrobat intends to release further jazz items from “this fount of rare gems,” the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation archive; it will interesting to see what these may be.

Bert Thompson  



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