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



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WOODY HERMAN

Four Classic Albums

Avid AMSC 1166

 

 

CD1

The Herd Rides Again In Stereo

1. Northwest Passage

2. Caldonia

3. Wild Root

4. The Good Earth

5. Blowin’ Up A Storm

6. It’s Coolin’ Time

7. I Cover The Waterfront

8. Crazy Rhythm

9. Sinbad The Sailor

10. Fire Island

11. Black Orchid

12. Bijou

Woody Herman - Clarinet, alto sax,vocal

Ernie Royal, Al Stewart, Bernie Glow, Nick Travis, Marky Markowitz - Trumpet

Bob Brookmeyer, Billy Byers, Frank Rehak - Trombone

Sam Marowitz - Alto sax

Al Cohn, Sam Donahue, Paul Quinichette - Tenor sax

Danny Bank - Baritone sax

Nat Pierce - Piano

Billy Bauer - Guitar

Chubby Jackson - Bass

Don Lamond - Drums

Burt Collins, Joe Ferrante - Trumpet replace Bernie Glow, Nick Travis on tracks 6, 8-12

The Fourth Herd

13. Panatela

14. Lament For Linda

15. Misery, Stay Away From My Door

16. In A Misty Mood

17. Catty’ Corner

18. The Thirteenth Instant

19. The Magpie

20. Blues For Indian Jim

21. The Devil And The Stoker

22. The Swing Machine

23. Summer Nights

24. Johnny On The Spot

Tracks: 15, 18, 21

Woody Herman - Clarinet, alto sax, vocal

Marky Markowitz, Reunald Jones, Bernie Glow, Red Rodney, Ernie Royal - Trumpet

Bob Brookmeyer, Jimmy Cleveland, Jim Dahl, Frank Rehak - Trombone

Sam Marowitz - Alto sax

Al Cohn, Dick Hafer, Don Lanphere - Tenor sax

Gene Allen - Baritone sax

Nat Pierce - Piano

Billy Bauer - Guitar

Don Lamond - Drums

Tracks:20, 22, 24 added :

Nat Adderley - Cornet

Zoot Sims - Tenor sax

Eddie Costa - Vibes

Barry Galbraith - Guitar

Milt Hinton - Bass

Tracks: 13, 16, 17

Woody Herman - Clarinet, alto sax

Nat Adderley - Cornet

Zoot Sims - Tenor sax

Nat Pierce - Piano

Eddie Costa - Vibes

Barry Galbraith - Guitar

Milt Hinton - Bass

Don Lamond - Drums

Burt Collins - Trumpet replaces Bernie Glow on tracks 14, 21

CD2

Swing Low, Sweet Clarinet

1. Swing Low, Sweet Clarinet

2. Rose Room

3. Sweet Lorraine

4. Blue Moon

5. Begin The Beguine

6. Pee Wee Blues

7. Don’t Be That Way

8. Someday Sweetheart

9. Mood Indigo

10. Summit Ridge Drive

11. On The Sunny Side Of The Street

12. Alexandra

Woody Herman - Clarinet

Nat Pierce - Piano

Chuck Andrus - Bass

Gus Johnson - Drums

At The Monterey Jazz Festival

13. Four Brothers

14. Like Some Blues Man

15. Skoobeedoobee

16. Monterey Apple Tree

17. Skylark

18. The Magpie

Woody Herman - Clarinet

Frank Huggins, Conte Candoli, Al Porcino, Ray Linn, Bill Chase - Trumpet

Urbie Green, Si Zentner, Bill Smiley - Trombone

Don Lanphere - Alto sax, tenor sax

Zoot Sims, Bill Perkins, Richie Kamuca - Tenor sax

Med Flory - Baritone sax

Victor Feldman - Piano, vibes

Charlie Byrd - Guitar

Monty Budwig - Bass

Mel Lewis - Drums


From the time Woody Herman went initially on the road at eighteen with The Ted Gerun Band in 1931, until his death in Los Angeles on October 29,1987 at seventy-four, he was the epitome of the big-band- era road warrior. In the November 25,1982 issue of Newsweek, writer Annalyn Swan said: “Where would jazz be without Herman? It’s not that he’s a sensational musician: he plays so-so sax, is a mellow clarinetist, and sings the blues with a certain gruff flair. He’s not a great innovator, like Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong….Nonetheless, he is one of the most durable figures in jazz and one of its uncelebrated heroes.”

In this Avid 2-CD release, the Woody Herman band is captured in several iterations towards the end of the 1950s, plus one quartet session from 1962 that features Herman exclusively on the clarinet. While the Herman bands of this period might not have been ranked among the best of the first three Herds, they nevertheless featured some sparkling soloists and always swung like mad. In the Gene Lees biography of Woody Herman entitled Leader Of The Band, Herman is quoted as saying the following about the 1950s: “Anyone who survived it, should be congratulated.”

The Herd Rides Again In Stereo was an attempt to recreate The First Herd which was originally constituted in 1945-46 and was wildly popular during that period. In fact, several members of that original band were on this session, such as guitarist Billy Bauer, bassist Chubby Jackson, and drummer Don Lamond. Using charts that were in play at the time of the original Herd, the band roars though many well-known compositions starting with Northwest Passage, a Herman-Chubby Jackson-Ralph Burns original. Solos were provided by pianist Nat Pierce, Woody on clarinet, Sam Donahue on tenor sax. Caldonia stayed in the band’s book over the years and here Woody does his usual vocal supported by the resounding brass section. Wild Root is a Herman/Neal Hefti number based on the chord changes from Flyin Home. It was promoted by the band when they had a radio program sponsored by Wildroot Cream Oil, a hair tonic that had a tag line: “Get Wildroot Cream Oil Charlie/It keeps your hair in trim.” Check out Ernie Royal’s high note trumpet on the closing bars. The band rips through the rest of the charts in their usual energetic fashion, with the close-out number being Bijou. This Latin themed number became closely identified with the band, and especially the original trombone solo from Bill Harris. Here Bob Brookmeyer took the trombone feature, and the best that can be said of the performance was, it did not make anyone forget Harris’ effort.

The Fourth Herd was an interesting concoction, in that the band was not really one of Woody’s Road Bands, but was an aggregation of some of his stalwarts, some studio musicians, a couple of high-profile ringers, and an octet which was a band within a band. Additionally the compositions were not well-known numbers, but did benefit from arrangements by Al Cohn, Nat Pierce and George Roumanis. Regardless of its structure, any Herman band had swing in its DNA, and this one was no different. While all the tracks exhibit a Herman touch, the ones that may have the most interest are Panatela, In A Misty Mood and Catty Corner. These feature Woody’s octet which was supported by the warmth of the big band. Sprinkled throughout these tracks are solos by Nat Adderley, Zoot Sims, Eddie Costa, and Woody of course.

Swing Low, Sweet Clarinet is an unusual quartet session with Woody exclusively on clarinet, supported by a rhythm section led by pianist Nat Pierce. As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, Woody was a mellow clarinetist, but not in the same league as either Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw. In the normal course of an evening when Woody fronted the band, he rarely played more than eight bars at any one time. In this setting, he is front and centre, and forced to carry the bulk of the solo work. However, Woody proves that he is up to the challenge, showing he is a resourceful improvisor and a thoughtful musician. He tackles a number of tunes associated with Goodman such as Rose Room and Sweet Lorraine and acquits himself with panache. The tunes that Shaw had made his own, are Begin The Beguine and Summit Ridge Drive. Woody does not try to duplicate the impossible, but rather gives the numbers his own flavour, and succeeds in providing compelling modern versions of the originals.

At The Monterey Jazz Festival, Woody Herman takes charge of a band filled with first-rate musicians, many of whom had played in Herman bands of the past. Others would stay with him through a very productive period for Herman during the mid-1960s. With a first-rate sax section of Zoot Sims, Bill Perkins, Richie Kamuca and Med Flory, the band kicks things off with Four Brothers which first came to prominence with Woody’s Second Herd also known as The Four Brothers Band. In that band the sax section was composed of Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Herbie Steward and Serge Chaloff. The rendition of the number here is driven by one of the best big band drummers Mel Lewis. Like Some Blues Man, written and arranged by Ted Richards fits neatly into the blues tradition of the Herman band, as Woody’s first band under his own name in 1936 was “Woody Herman and the Band That Plays the Blues”. Following an opening by Victor Feldman on vibes, the band settles into a bluesy groove with solos from Conte Candoli on trumpet, Bill Perkins on tenor, Urbie Green on trombone, and a masterful tear up and down the fret-board by Charlie Byrd on guitar. Herman’s Monterey Apple Tree (a.k.a. Apple Honey) takes flight in a bruising tempo that the band maintains for over ten minutes, replete with a furious exchange between tenor saxophonist Don Lanphere and baritone saxophonist Med Flory. Most of the other main names take a piece of the action on the way through, including some high-flying clarinet work from Woody. Although this album comes in at a paltry thirty-six minutes, it is chock-full of scintillating music.

Woody Herman continually rebooted his bands to make them relevant during the period in which they played. These are terrific examples of those bands during the 1950s.

Pierre Giroux



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