For this 1958 recording Woody Herman stepped aside and let bassist Chubby Jackson have the reins of the band. This would have been any player's dream, for the Herd was stocked with talented players who grew up listening to the Four Brothers and bebop and could solo with the best of them. As a result, Herman's band was still capable of turning up the heat long after the height of the big band era, as his other releases for the Everest label attest.
It's a bit disappointing, then, that Chubby Takes Over isn't better than it is. By and large it's a pleasant album of serviceable and unspectacular big band recordings with a few nice solos from the likes of Al Cohn and Bob Brookmeyer. The problem is that everything is dispatched in the same medium tempo bounce and blasting brass that dominated big band music from the forties. Even the ballads are afraid to stay gentle, building to a dramatic climax. The pedestrian arrangements have a lot to do with it, but certainly a more varied program of tunes would have helped; quite a few songs are indistinguishable from each other.
It's not a bad effort by any means, but Chubby Takes Over isn't up to the standards of the Herd's other Everest work. As the cheerleader of the band, Jackson surely provided a lot of energy, but he needs some work on his play calling.
Track Listing: Loch Lamond; Blowin' Up A Storm; A Ballad for Jai; When the Saints Go Marching In; Oh
Look at Me Now; Mt. Everest; Yes Indeed, It's Delovely; Cover the Earth With Your
Loveliness, Alexander's Ragtime Band; Woodshed; Hail, Hail, The Herd's All Here.
Personnel: Chubby Jackson, Ernie Royal, Bob Brookmeyer, Al Cohn, Pete Mondello, Sam Most, Don
Lamond, Marty Napoleon, and others.
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