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Los Angeles Jazz Institute Festival - Woodchopper's Ball: Part 3-4

Simon Pilbrow By

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Film Session 4: Fanfare for the Common Man -Rare films from the L.A. Jazz Institute Archive

Ken Poston's final chapter of the Woody Herman story on film began with a Jerry Lewis Show appearance by the Herd from 1957, with performances of "Blue Flame" and "Caldonia," featuring tenor man Paul Quinichette and pianist Nat Pierce. "Come Rain Or Come Shine" included Lewis' zany vocals with the band and then in tandem with the Charles Sandford string orchestra.

A 1965 appearance in the Ed Sullivan Show, showed the band in magnificent form, playing the fast and swinging "My Favorite Things," featuring Bill Chase trumpet, Phil Wilson on trombone and Ronnie Zito's driving drums.

A 1966 Vienna performance of Horace Silver's "The Preacher" featured Julian Priester on trombone and Sal Nistico's spirited tenor sax. More Ed Sullivan Show appearances included a 1967 date showcasing Woody on soprano sax, on a fast "Boogaloo," along with Cecil Payne's baritone sax and Zito again on drums. In 1968, the band was shown with Tony Bennett, singing "Get Happy" and "There Will Never Be Another You," and the talents of drummer Ed Soph, baritonist Nick Brignola, pianist John Hicks, and special guest, tenor giant Zoot Sims, were well displayed. A Canadian In The Mood Show, broadcast from 1973, showed Woody along with a pianist Alan Broadbent, guesting with the Guido Basso Orchestra, and playing the Herd's arrangement of "25 or 6 to 4" and "MacArthur Park."

Ken spoke about the increased recruitment by Woody of accomplished students from the ranks of the North Texas State Jazz lab band other top jazz breeding grounds. From a 1977 tour of Poland, Woody's band played Chick Corea's "Spain," beginning with the melody of "Crystal Silence," and featuring Frank Tiberi on bassoon and solos from a youthful Lyle Mays on piano and future tenor star Joe Lovano on tenor sax. Also shown was John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" in Bill Stapleton's marvelous arrangement, with a ferocious tenor duet between Lovano and Tiberi, accompanied only by drums.

In 1979 festival in Nice, France, showed Woody on soprano sax, playing Gary Anderson's arrangement of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare For The Common Man." Also noteworthy were Gary Smulyan on baritone sax and Bob Belden on tenor saxophone. A 1984 Disneyland appearance showed Tiberi, baritonist Mike Brignola, trombonist John Fedchock, trumpeters Mark Lewis and Ron Stout, all of whom featured prominently in this current Woody Herman festival.

Concert 11: One Night Stand: Charlie Barnet vs. Woody With The Herman Battle of the Bands

One Night Stand With The Battle Of The Bands was a re-creation of the famous Rendezvous Ballroom encounter on July 30, 1949, between the Woody Herman and Charlie Barnet bands, recording originally released on LP on the Joyce label. Assembled for this Sunday Brunch feature were two all-star big bands, both ready to reinvent the occasion. There was much banter between the two leaders, Ken Peplowski (fronting the Woody Herman team) and Mike Berkowitz (leading the Charlie Barnet team from the drum chair), with Peplowski often seeming to have the upper hand. The Barnet band won the toss, and launched into their first tune (name not announced) with some bright, energetic work from Bobby Shew, effervescent piano from Brian O'Rourke and feisty ensemble work.

The Herman band fired back with "Lolly Pop," by Shorty Rogers and Terry Gibbs, opening with the vintage vocal duet, this time featuring Peplowski and Scott Whitfield, both of whom seemed to be sight-reading the libretto, with great accuracy and plenty of verve. Soloists included an energetic Keith Bishop on baritone sax and a spirited trombone duet/duel between Whitfield and Jacques Voyemant.

The Barnet band returned with "Eugipelliv," by Paul Villepigue, composer/arranger with the 40s Barnet band, the name being his name spelt backwards. Featuring Latin rhythm and sprightly brass section work, the forward-looking 40's Barnet reed- section sound, with soprano saxophone on top, was prominent, Fred Laurence Selden taking the lead and solo honors.

The Herman band continued with Ellington's "I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good," arranged by Shorty Rogers, and showcasing rising star bassist/vocalist Katie Thiroux on the vocal. Ken Peplowski was magnificent on clarinet, with lovely piano accompaniment and solos from Jim Cox, and more fun clarinet obbligatos framing Thiroux's voice on the out-melody. Manny Albam's "Claude Reigns" was the next Barnet band offering, a fast tune, beginning with a capella brass and continuind with unison reeds on the melody. Pianist Brian O'Rourke was the featured soloist, full of bounce and vitality, playing a fun, quite eccentric solo, with energetic block chording, using all his bag of piano tricks to surprise at every turn.

The Herman band hit a winner with Jimmy Giuffre's beloved "Four Brothers." This featured a stellar reed section, and strong solos from Brian Williams, Keith Bishop, Doug Webb and Roger Neumann, with Peplowski 's soaring clarinet, brilliantly-executed ensemble passages and a tight rhythm section. The Barnet band responded with a contrastingly slow ballad, Tiny Kahn's arrangement of Harold Arlen's "Over The Rainbow," with trumpets taking the main melody, handing it to Fred Selden's thoughtful sopranos sax. There was more theatrical block chording from pianist O'Rourke, some strikingly dissonant brass section sounds, leading back to Selden's soprano sax's final melody. The Herman band responded in kind with another cherished favorite, Ralph Burns "Early Autumn." The gorgeous sax section harmonies of the melody were executed with great care. The alto sax bridge, normally played by Woody tipping his hat to Johnny Hodges, was this time played by alto saxophonist Annie Patterson, who instead gave it much more fire and passion, followed by Jim Cox's reflective piano. Wearing the "Stan Getz mantle,' but in no way imitative, was tenor man Roger Neumann, with a luminous tenor solo and cadenza. The two bands combined for a lively jam session on Cherokee, the epochal Ray Noble tune.
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