How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
This 1971 performance was part of a huge jazz concert in Clearwater, FL sponsored by station WAZE . In addition to Woody Herman's aggregation, the Four Freshmen and Stan Kenton's band were there. These sessions have also been issued by Hitchcock. Herman's music and arrangements are fresh and exciting, not repeats of the same stuff he was playing with earlier outfits. This regrettably was not the case with Stan Kenton, who was regurgitating material played many times before.
There were at least two constants about a Herman band. First, the players were top flight, young and getting sensational training and learning musical (if not temperance) discipline from Herman. The people who passed through Herman's organization read like a Who's Who of modern jazz. Second, Herman never let himself get into a musical rut. As tastes changed with the times, so did he. Once known as the band that "played the blues", he moved on to play bop and even some modern music with a rock foundation like "Variations on a Scene". But irrespective of the kind of music, the arrangements and their playing were exact.
The cluster of musicians Woody brought to Clearwater met his high standards. Alan Broadbent was doing most of the arrangements. Sal Nistico was showing off his exceptional sax playing on several tunes including a ranting, high voltage solo in "Keep on Keepin' on". Some of the cuts featured the upper stratosphere trumpeting of Buddy Powers. Drummer Ed Soph was the driving rhythmic force with help from Bill Terry's bass. Herman continued to sing with his laconic, conversational manner on such tunes as "Pennies from Heaven" and "I've Got the World on a String". But he saves his best vocalizing for "Blues in the Night" that was in the band book forever. Arranged by Broadbent, it gets a thorough 14 minute workout by the members of the band in solo and ensemble.
There's some humor as well. Woody tells a tale about his stint at the Metropole Bar in New York. He explained how a person would come in off the street perfectly sober and within 40 minutes was leaving the place completely soused praising the band. Herman goes on to describe one of the more salty characters, Sidewalk Stanley. He then pays tribute to Sidewalk with a bouncy, boozy "Sidewalk Stanley".
Hitchcock Media should get a prize for discovering this Herman performance and making it available.
Track Listing: Blue Flame (Theme Song); Keep on Keepin' on; Adam's Apple' Blues in the Night; 25 or 6 to 4; Medley: Pennies from Heaven, I've Got the World on a String; Woody Reminisces about Igor Stravinsky; Love in Silent Amber; Variations on a Scene: Bijou; Woody recalls "Sidewalk"; Sidewalk Stanley; Theme Song
Personnel: Woody Herman - Leader/Clarinet/Alto & Soprano Sax/Vocals; Ed Soph - Drums; Bill Terry - Bass; Alan Broadbent - Piano and Fender Rhodes; Bill Byrne, Tony Klatka, Forest Buchtel, Buddy Powers, Bob Agnew - Trumpet; Rick Stepton, Bobby Burgess, Don Switzer - Trombones; Steve Lederer, Frank Tiberi, Sal Nistico - Tenor Saxophone; Mike Hanson - Baritone Saxophone