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Woody Herman

Biography

Clarinettist, saxophonist and bandleader. Herman's series of big bands were known as 'Herds', a perfect description for the more boisterous, energetic side of their work, but not necessarily catching the beautiful, reflective side of his work written by such arrangers ...

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Biography

Clarinettist, saxophonist and bandleader. Herman's series of big bands were known as 'Herds', a perfect description for the more boisterous, energetic side of their work, but not necessarily catching the beautiful, reflective side of his work written by such arrangers as Ralph Burns, and featuring his star soloists, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Al Cohn.

No other white bandleader got so close to the spirit of African-American jazz, nor reflected every change in musical fashion from bebop to jazz rock, without ever losing the fundamental sound and recognisable qualities of his own band. Herman had been a child entertainer, but his big break came in 1936 when he took over Isham Jones's band.

He kept this going for ten years, and then between occasional periods of retirement or work as a vocalist, he led a further outstanding series of bands. In later life, tax claims and other financial problems compelled him to keep touring, but he never compromised on the excitement and vibrancy of his band on its live appearances and copious discs.

His own playing was not particularly brilliant, but gutsy and bluesy by turns, as was his very approachable vocal style. His talent was in selecting an exceptional group of sidemen, and by combining clever arrangements with skill, style and discipline, turning them into a series of great ensembles.

His famous 'Four Brothers' line up of three tenors and baritone in the late 1940s was perhaps his most celebrated band, but other groups with trumpeter/arrangers Shorty Rogers and Neal Hefti, saxophonist Flip Phillips and trombonist Bill Harris were all well up to the mark. His greatest hits were the high-energy Apple Honey and Woodchoppers Ball, but his greatest music came in Burns's Early Autumn, or Stravinsky's extraordinary Ebony Concerto, which was commissioned for his band.


Tracks (40)

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Apple Honey (extract)
Apple Honey (extract)
Performer
Sonny Berman, Charles Frankhauser, Ray Wetzel, Pete Candoli, Carl Warwick, t; Ralph Pfeffner, Bill Harris, Ed Kiefer, tb; Sam Marowitz, John LaPorta, cl, as;
Flip Phillips, Pete Mondello, ts; Skippy DeSair, bs; Marjorie Hyams, vib; Ralph Burns, arr, p; Billy Bauer, g; Chubby Jackson, b; Dave Tough, d. 19 Feb 1945
Igor
Igor
Performer
Woody Herman, cl v; Sonny Berman, Shorty Rogers, t; Bill Harris, tb; Flip Phillips, ts; Red Norvo, vib; Jimmy Rowles, p; Billy Bauer, g; Chubby Jackson, b; Don Lamond, d 20 May 1946 & Woody Herman
Fan It
Fan It
Performer
Woody Herman, cl v; Sonny Berman, Shorty Rogers, t; Bill Harris, tb; Flip Phillips, ts; Red Norvo, vib; Jimmy Rowles, p; Billy Bauer, g; Chubby Jackson, b; Don Lamond, d 20 May 1946 & Woody Herman
Things Ain't What They Used To Be
Things Ain't What They Used To Be
Performer
Bill Stapleton, Brian O’Flaherty, Scott Wagstaff, Mark Lewis, George Rabbai, t; Gene Smith, Hon Fedchock, Larry Shunk, tb;
Woody Herman, Paul McGinley, Randy Russell, Billy Ross, Nick Brignola, Al Cohn, Stan Getz, reeds; John Oddo, p; Mike Hall, b; Dave Rataiczak, d. 15 Aug 1981.
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