In 1951, two years after he was forced to disband the groundbreaking Second Herd, Woody Herman was back in the saddle and leading another swinging ensemble, the suitably named Third Herd. These radio air–checks of the Herd were recorded during a three–week engagement at the Hollywood Palladium in May–June ’51. Gone were the original “Four Brothers” (Getz, Sims, Steward / Cohn, Chaloff) and other standouts including Bill Harris, Don Lamond, Chubby Jackson, Terry Gibbs and Ernie Royal, but Woody had a number of first–class players in the newest Herd including trumpeters Don Fagerquist and Shorty Rogers, trombonist Urbie Green, tenor saxophonist Phil Urso, pianist Dave McKenna and drummer Sonny Igoe. Al Cohn continued to arrange for the band, as did Ralph Burns, Neal Hefti and Jimmy Giuffre, among others, and Rogers was beginning to make his presence felt with such swinging charts as “More Moon.” The Third Herd is in customarily good form here but the sound is somewhat murky, akin to what one would have heard on the radio half a century ago. Emcees Bill Baldwin and Johnny Grant keep their remarks brief and to the point, which is always a plus on such occasions. The album’s twenty tracks encompass a dozen instrumentals (including Woody’s opening theme, “Blue Flame,” which is heard three times) and eight vocals, five by Woody and three by Dolly Houston. Another song closely associated with Herman, the familiar “Woodchopper’s Ball,” is played twice, the second time as part of closing medley with Tiny Kahn’s strapping “Leo the Lion.” Among the more productive soloists on the finale is tenor Bill Perkins who sits in for Urso on the last four tracks. The instrumentals are fine, especially those already mentioned, and the vocals at least respectable. The playing time (65:25) is generous but the generally subpar sound quality neutralizes that advantage. On balance, an above–average sampling of one of Woody’s splendid thundering Herds in a concert setting.
Theme: Blue Flame; Perdido; Lonesome Gal; Early Autumn; By George; Pennies from Heaven; Don
Woody Herman, conductor, alto sax, clarinet, vocals; Don Fagerquist, Doug Mettome, Roy Caton, Shorty Rogers, trumpet; Herb Randel, Urbie Green, Jerry Dorn, trombone; Phil Urso (1
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