Woody Herman: The Complete Columbia Recordings of Woody Herman and His Orchestra & Woodchoppers (1945-1947) (2004)
Leave it to Mosaic to be the one to finally get it right. After Columbia's initial poorly engineered Greatest Hits back in the '80s, and their better sounding (but hardly complete) two-CD set two years ago, Woody Herman is finally represented in the respectful manner he is due with a delicious seven-CD (limited edition) box set. This beauty is not only an absolute must for Herman fans, but it also serves as a testament for all music fans who want to hear the evolution of jazz from swing to the nascent period of bop.
This set is divided into three parts. The first section features the classic First Herd with an all-star cast playing songs that were soon to become the vocabulary of every swing fans: "Apple Honey," "Northwest Passage," "The Good Earth," and all the rest. These pieces are exquisitely recorded and played with an abandon that only creative, youthful exuberance is capable of. The charts by Ralph Burns are as fresh and dynamic as anything put out today. They stand up incredibly well over time. Surprisingly, so do the songs featuring vocals by Herman and the lovely Francis Wayne. Most vocals from the Swing Era have aged poorly over time, but Herman (featured on the ballads, blues and novelties) sounds absolutely modern with his full, yet raspy vocals. These charts contain all of the elements of classic music: accessible music, played extremely well with feeling, and with a touch of humor all too often missing in jazz.
The second section features the Woodchoppers, a group which read the writing on the wall, and began delving into the new breed of music known as bebop. Songs like "Lost Week-End," the driving "Igor," and "Steps" reveal that Herman was willing to stretch the band to new ideas. This concept reaches its climax with the band performing Igor Stavinsky's "Ebony Concerto." While not to everyone's taste, it proved that Herman and company were more interested in art than financial success.
After taking a sabbatical to attend to his wife's health problems, Herman exceeded all expectations by forming an even better band than the first. Featuring a dream reed section of Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff, and Al Cohn, this Four Brothers band revolutionized the big band era by adding white hot bop rhythms and solos. With charts by Shorty Rogers and Jimmy Giuffre that deserve Hall of Fame status, Herman's Second Herd, while financially a disaster, remains an influence to this very day.
DISC 1 1. Laura (A) 3:00 (J.Mercer-D.Raksin) 2. Apple Honey (A) 3:15 (Woody Herman) 3. I Wonder (A) 3:16 (C.Gant-R.Leveen) 4. Yeah Man (Amen) (A) 2:14 (Hardy-Schoen-Segure) 5. Out Of This World (B) 3:08 (J.Mercer-H.Arlen) 6. June Comes Around Every Year (B) 2:59 (J.Mercer-H.Arlen) 7. Caldonia (B) 2:59 (Fleecy Moore) 8. Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe (B) 3:24 (E.Y.Harburg-H. Arlen) 9. Goosey Gander (C) 3:21 (Woody Herman) 10. I Don't Care If I Never Dream Again (C) 3:11 (Drake-Hoffman-Livingston) 11. Northwest Passage (C) 3:08 (Herman-Jackson-Burns) 12. A Kiss Goodnight (C) 3:18 (Slack-Victor-R.Herman) 13. I've Got The World On A String (C) 3:21 (T.Koehler-H.Arlen) 14. Laura (alt tk-2) (A) 2:59 15. Apple Honey (alt tk-5) (A) 3:20 16. Apple Honey (alt tk-2) (A) 3:17 17. Caldonia (alt tk-4) (B) 3:04 18. Caldonia (alt tk-3) (B) 3:03 19. Caldonia (alt tk-2) (B) 3:01 20. Goosey Gander (alt tk-3) (C) 3:20 21. Goosey Gander (alt tk-2) (C) 3:15 22. Northwest Passage (alt tk-4) (C) 3:13 23. Northwest Passage (alt tk-3) (C) 3:06 24. Northwest Passage (alt tk-2) (C) 3:09
DISC 2 1. Love Me (D) 2:59 (S.Cahn-J.Styne) 2. No Time (D) 2:57 (J.Holliday-P.Goddard) 3. I'm Not Having Any This Year (E) 3:19 (M.Malneck-D.Raye) 4. I Can't Believe My Eyes (E) 3:19 (E.DeLange-S.Chaplin) 5. The Good Earth (F) 2:28 (Neal Hefti) 6. Put That Ring On My Finger (F) 3:11 (S.Skylar-R.Ryan) 7. Bijou (Rhumba A La Jazz) (F) 3:19 (Ralph Burns) 8. Gee It's Good To Hold You (G) 3:08 (A.Roberts-D.Fisher) 9. Your Father's Mustache (G) 3:18 (B.Harris-W.Herman) 10. The Good Earth (rhythm section test) (F) 0:44 11. The Good Earth (alt tk-5) (F) 2:30 12. The Good Earth (alt tk-3) (F) 2:26 13. The Good Earth (alt tk-2) (F) 2:29 14. Bijou (Rhumba A La Jazz) (alt tk-2) (F) 3:19 15. Bijou (Rhumba A La Jazz) (alt tk-3) (F) 3:16 16. Your Father's Mustache (alt tk-3) (G) 3:17 17. Your Father's Mustache (alt tk-4) (G) 3:16
DISC 3 1. You've Got Me Crying Again (H) 3:12 (I.Jones-C.Newman) 2. Wild Root (I) 2:52 (W.Herman-N.Hefti) 3. Everybody Knew But Me (J) 3:07 (Irving Berlin) 4. Blowin' Up A Storm (J) 3:21 (Woody Herman) 5. Atlanta, G.A. (K) 3:07 (S.Skylar-A.Shaftel) 6. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow (K) 3:11 (S.Cahn-J.Styne) 7. Welcome To My Dream (L) 3:02 (J.Burke-J.Van Heusen) 8. It's Anybody's Spring (L) 2:56 (J.Burke-J.Van Heusen) 9. No Don't Stop (M) 2:58 (R.Alfred-S.Medoff) 10. You Haven't Changed At All (M) 3:15 (A.J.Lerner-F.Loewe) 11. Wild Root (unissued test) (H) 2:34 12. Wild Root (alt tk-4) (I) 2:53 13. Wild Root (alt tk-1) (H) 2:55 14. Wild Root (alt tk-6) (I) 3:00 15. Blowin' Up A Storm (alt tk-3) (J) 3:18 16. Blowin' Up A Storm (alt tk-2) (J) 3:20 17. Welcome To My Dream (alt tk-4) (L) 3:09
DISC 4 1. You've Got Me Cryin' Again (N) 2:52 (I.Jones-C.Newman) 2. A Jug of Wine (N) 2:53 (A.J.Lerner-F.Loewe) 3. Panacea (N) 3:16 (R.Burns-L.Feather) 4. Heaven Knows (N) 3:00 (L.Whitcup-C.Gierlach) 5. Pipe Dreaming (O) 3:10 (Cole Porter) 6. Linger In My Arms A Little Longer, Baby (O) 3:20 (Herbert Magidson) 7. Surrender (P) 3:16 (G.Weiss-B.Benjamin) 8. Mabel, Mabel (P) 2:58 (Drake-Shirl-Katzman) 9. When We Meet Again (P) 3:20 (Harold Rome) 10. Sidewalks of Cuba (V) 2:57 (Oakland-Parish-Mills) 11. Stars Fell on Alabama (W) 3:06 (M.Parish-F.Perkins) 12. If It's Love You Want (Baby, That's Me) (W) 3:15 (Sydney Robin) 13. Lady McGowan's Dream (Pt.1) (W) 2:50 (Ralph Burns) 14. Lady McGowan's Dream (Pt.2) (W) 2:25 (Ralph Burns) 15. Romance In The Dark (W) 3:22 (B.Broonzy-L.Green) 16. Sidewalks of Cuba (alt tk-2) (V) 3:01 17. Panacea (alt tk-4) (N) 3:20 18. Panacea (alt tk-2) (N) 3:20 19. Panacea (alt tk-3) (N) 3:15 20. Mabel, Mabel (alt tk-6) (P) 2:57
DISC 5 1. Summer Sequence (Pt. 1) (X) 3:15 (Ralph Burns) 2. Summer Sequence (Pt. 2) (X) 2:52 (Ralph Burns) 3. Summer Sequence (Pt. 3) (X) 2:40 (Ralph Burns) 4. Uncle Remus Said (Y) 2:54 (Lang-Heath-Daniel) 5. Everywhere (Y) 3:04 (Bill Harris) 6. With Someone New (Y) 3:14 (Flip Phillips) 7. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams (Y) 2:43 (Koehler-Moll-Barris) 8. Back Talk (Y) 2:58 (S.Rogers-R.Norvo) 9. Woodchopper's Ball (AA) 3:07 (J.Bishop-W.Herman) 10. Blue Flame (AA) 3:17 (Bishop-Corday-Noble) 11. The Blues Are Brewin' (BB) 2:57 (E.DeLange-L.Alter) 12. The Anniversary Song (BB) 3:08 (A.Jolson-S.Chaplin) 13. Non-Alcoholic (BB) 3:01 (John LaPorta) 14. Back Talk (alt tk-4) (Y) 3:01 15. Back Talk (alt tk-1) (Y) 3:06 16. Woodchopper's Ball (alt tk-2) (AA) 3:10 17. Blue Flame (alt tk-3) (AA) 3:15 18. Ebony Concerto (Pt. 1) (U) 4:24 (Igor Stravinsky) 19. Ebony Concerto (Pt. 2) (U) 4:06 (Igor Stravinsky)
DISC 6 1. Igor (Q) 2:40 (S.Rogers-R.Norvo) 2. Steps (R) 3:17 (S.Rogers-R.Norvo) 3. Four Men On A Horse (R) 3:06 (Chubby Jackson) 4. Fan It (R) 3:10 (F.Jaxon-D.Howell) 5. Nero's Conception (S) 3:14 (S.Rogers-R.Norvo) 6. Lost Week-End (S) 2:52 (Flip Phillips) 7. Pam (S) 3:11 (Billy Bauer) 8. I Surrender, Dear (T) 3:00 (G.Clifford-H.Barris) 9. Someday, Sweetheart (Z) 2:20 (J.Spikes-B.Spikes) 10. I Surrender, Dear (Z) 3:23 (G.Clifford-H.Barris) 11. Igor (alt tk-5) (Q) 2:46 12. Igor (alt tk-4) (Q) 2:40 13. Steps (alt tk-3) (R) 3:12 14. Fan It (alt tk-3) (R) 2:43 15. Fan It (alt tk-4) (R) 3:06 16. Fan It (alt tk-2) (R) 3:07 17. Lost Week-End (alt tk-3) (S) 2:52 18. Lost Week-End (alt tk-4) (S) 2:53 19. Pam (alt tk-3) (S) 3:00 20. Someday, Sweetheart (alt tk-4) (Z) 3:31
DISC 7 1. If Anybody Can Steal My Baby (CC) 2:44 (G.Wyle-E.Pola) 2. I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out (CC) 3:20 (Frigo-Carter-Ellis) 3. Sabre Dance (DD) 2:30 (Aram Khachaturian) 4. Cherokee Canyon (DD) 2:57 (D.Charles-C.Story) 5. I've Got News For You (DD) 3:16 (Roy Alfred) 6. Keen And Peachy (DD) 2:47 (R.Burns-S.Rogers) 7. The Goof And I (EE) 2:48 (Al Cohn) 8. Lazy Lullaby (EE) 3:08 (W.Herman-D.George) 9. Four Brothers (EE) 3:14 (Jimmy Giuffre) 10. Summer Sequence (Pt. 4) (EE) 3:02 (Ralph Burns) 11. Swing Low, Sweet Clarinet (FF) 3:03 (Walter Mourant) 12. My Pal Gonzales (FF) 3:01 (W.Herman-D.George) 13. P.S. I Love You (FF) 3:05 (J.Mercer-G.Jenkins) 14. Baby I Need You (FF) 2:51 (W.Farrar-A.Gannaway) 15. Take A Little Time To Smile (FF) 2:52 (D.Barbour-P.Lee) 16. I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out (alt tk-4) (CC) 3:05 17. I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out (alt tk-3) (CC) 3:17 18. Keen And Peachy (alt tk-5) (DD) 2:49 19. Keen And Peachy (alt tk-4) (DD) 2:48 20. Keen And Peachy (alt tk-3) (DD) 2:49 21. Keen And Peachy (alt tk-2) (DD) 2:48 22. The Goof And I (breakdown) (EE) 2:31 23. Summer Sequence (Pt. 4) (alt tk-3) (EE) 3:27 24. Summer Sequence (Pt. 4) (alt tk-2) (EE) 3:03