Los Angeles Jazz Institute Festival - Woodchopper's Ball: Part 2-4

Simon Pilbrow By

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The homonymously named "Would He?" featured a 'brothers' sax section sound and featured some powerhouse ensemble playing, vigorous drumming from Dave Tull, and some vital, albeit brief, solos from Voyemant, Lockart and Eames. "Mulligantawny," Bill Holman's nod to a musician colleague (and perhaps to an Anglo-Indian soup), is a minor blues began with a chorus of Dave Stone's walking bass and Dave Tull's tasteful brushes, before a melody chorus of Schroeder's baritone and a second with the full reed section, and some neat sax soli choruses. The arrangement is an early example of the polyphonic, dense, swinging writing that has long been a hallmark of the indefatigable Holman's brilliant charts. Fine solos were heard from Neumann's muscular tenor, Budman's soaring clarinet and Shew's bluesy trumpet, before Schroeder took charge of the final melody. The final offering, the piece de resistance, was a very fast "Apple Honey," taken at nearly 300 beats per minute (yes, I counted bars for 10 seconds, and 'did the math'). It featured some ferocious tenor work from Lockart, fiery harmon-muted trumpet from Mark Lewis, more sedate trombone from Voyemant; bold, sinewy post-bop tenor from Pinter, and more brilliant clarinet from Budman. Ron King carried off well the final Pete Candoli screaming trumpet blast and survived, and there was plenty of appreciative applause for a very enjoyable celebration of the Third Herd.

Film Session 3: The Swinging Herman Herd -Rare Films from the Los Angeles Jazz Institute Archive

Ken Poston began the third installment in the Woody Herman story on film, with the Herd's 1953 television appearance on the TIMEX Show, with host Steve Allen. This occasion featured Third Herd sidemen (such as Paul Quinichette and Nat Pierce), and distinguished alumni as guests or re-joiners of the band (including Al Cohn, Chubby Jackson, Don Lamond , Zoot Sims, and Bill Harris) in spirited performances of "Apple Honey," Horace Silver's "The Preacher" and "Woodchopper's Ball." A further late 1950s television appearance on the The Big Record, with host Patti Page, featured the band playing "Blues on Parade,""Blues In The Night,""Amen,""Stars Fell On Alabama" with Woody joining a crooning quartet, and a mighty "Caldonia."

Ken described this period in the late 1950s, when Woody was contracted to Verve records at a time in which few big bands were still surviving, and then later in the early 1960s, when he signed with Philips, there seemed a kind of rebirth of interest in big bands, and he remarked on how the Herd's repertoire changed and adapted. Important new faces who gave shape to the 1960s Herds were mentioned, including trumpeter Bill Chase, tenor men Sal Nistico and Joe Romano, trombonist Phil Wilson, and baritonist Nick Brignola. Jazz writer Ralph Gleason, who was working with Woody on a biography at the time, featured the band on three Jazz Casual television shows in 1963, in which each of these soloists were seen and heard to advantage, including an excellent and candid filming of Woody rehearsing the band reading through a complex Bill Holman chart. A 1964 'Edie Adams Show' featured the band with Nistico tearing into a very fast "Apple Honey," and then her languid, flat voice with the band singing "Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe." The Swinging Sixties footage featured "Four Brothers" where the divergence was beginning to be noticeable between the continuing Lestorian sax section sound and the more forward looking solo styles of each player. Finally, Ken showed footage from the Steve Race Introduces Jazz series, in the swinging but demanding Bill Holman arrangement of "After You've Gone," featuring Nistico on tenor and the mighty Jake Hanna on drums.
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