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Rabshakeh

Woody Herman in the LP era

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Are there any Woody Herman records from the LP era (i.e. not comps of earlier singles) that are really great? 

You hear a lot about Kenton LPs, but not so much Herman.

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Lots of them. The Fantasy recordings are generally very good, even as they reflect the early-mid 70's big band style.  But Giant Steps and Thundering Herd are superb and timeless big band recordings. Woody's Winners and My Kind of Broadway on Columbia. All of the Philips recordings. Woody Herman Band and Road Band on Capitol.  All these have been made available on CD, I believe.  

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Stravinsky's Ebony Concerto on Everest, though it is only one side of the album.

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1 hour ago, John Tapscott said:

...Giant Steps and Thundering Herd are superb and timeless big band recordings. Woody's Winners and My Kind of Broadway on Columbia. All of the Philips recordings...

This.

And...Heavy Exposure (LP only) is about 50/50 gems/crap, but the gems give you this gemmiest of gems

At the end of the day, it's still The Band That Plays The Blues, right?

 

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Posted (edited)

I had "Thundering Herd" and "Giant Steps" as a kid, and the last time I listened to those records a few years ago, I thought the best of the charts and the playing held up surprisingly well, though it can be hit and miss track to track. But the Alan Broadbent arrangements in particular have legs. Try his original "Bebop and Roses" and his chart on Zappa's "America Drinks and Goes Home." When I started writing big band arrangements in high school, I used "Bebop and Roses" as a model. 

Funny story: When I was 13 in 1976, my middle school jazz band played at a jazz festival in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Woody's band was the guest attraction. There were clinics in the afternoon and Woody's longtime lead tenor man Frank Tiberi ran the one for saxophone players. He was also a fine bassoon player, and I remember that he told us how beneficial it would be for us saxophone players to take up a double reed instrument like oboe or bassoon because the double lip embouchure would force you to really support the air column from the diaphragm -- that's the only way to maintain your pitch -- and this would help prevent you from biting down too hard on your saxophone mouthpiece with your top teeth or exerting too much pressure from the bottom lip. And this would thus improve your airflow and sound. He's right about this, but I recall thinking at age 13 that this was really odd advice to give to a group of young musicians who could barely play the saxophone, and yet he wanted us to start learning the oboe. 

Back to Broadbent, I will say this rococo arrangement of "Blues in the Night" from a little earlier in 1970 is completely nuts, and not always in a good way. The curve ball at the 6:40 mark is not the choice I would have made. I won't spoil it for those who don't know what's coming. But the whole thing was a showstopper. I think Woody wanted something akin to Buddy Rich's "West Side Story" -- a big production number. 

 

Edited by Mark Stryker

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ab67616d0000b273a23f95eaf86820cdd210db31

These are my favourites.

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Still The Band That Plays The Blues

The above are from the Fantasy album spotlighting guest artist Michael Bloomfield, who I never really liked (nor disliked). But the cuts without him are really nice.

Early 70s were quite good for Woody. The charts by Broadbent, Tony Klatka, and Bill Stapleton were frequently fresh, and the band responded accordingly.

 

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14 hours ago, Rabshakeh said:

Are there any Woody Herman records from the LP era (i.e. not comps of earlier singles) that are really great?

Unless you have all the singles, i.e. 78s (unlikely ...)´, don't dismiss "comps of earlier singles" outright.

If you want to go the vinyl route, the three "The Thundering Herds" LPs on CBS (BPG 62158 to 62160 / CL1959 to 1961) that have the key Columbia items from the 1945-47 period are a very well-compiled package. AFAIK they exist both as 3 individual LPs and as a 3-LP box set.

Other releases from the stricter "LP era" (roughly chronological) that I tend to revisit are:

- The Woody Herman Band (Capitol T560)
- Jackpot (Capitol T748)
(Not that I would dismiss "Road Band" but I don't own that LP - yet?)
- Woody Herman '58 (Verve MGV-8255)
- The Herd Rides Again (don't be put off by the fact it's on the budget-y Everest label - LBPR 5003)

The "1963"/"1964" LPs on Philips are also fine.
 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, JSngry said:

Still The Band That Plays The Blues

The above are from the Fantasy album spotlighting guest artist Michael Bloomfield, who I never really liked (nor disliked). But the cuts without him are really nice.

Early 70s were quite good for Woody. The charts by Broadbent, Tony Klatka, and Bill Stapleton were frequently fresh, and the band responded accordingly.

 

That "Lazy Bird" arrangement is good one -- Stapleton -- if I recall. A lot happens in just over three minutes and the chorus based on Trane's solo works well, scored creatively and integrated into the whole better than that kind of thing typically is. 

 

 

I always liked Tony Klatka's "Blues for Poland." I didn't realize until I got older that it was not just layered riffs ala Basie but very much a take on Thad Jones. The 4th chorus -- the full ensemble chorus that leads to the baritone sax solo -- has melodies cut from Thad-like intervals and contours and the dissonant brass voicings often sound lifted from any by any number of Thad's charts. That's cool. It's all syncopated and swinging. 

 

Edited by Mark Stryker

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3 hours ago, Big Beat Steve said:

Unless you have all the singles, i.e. 78s (unlikely ...)´, don't dismiss "comps of earlier singles" outright.

If you want to go the vinyl route, the three "The Thundering Herds" LPs on CBS (BPG 62158 to 62160 / CL1959 to 1961) that have the key Columbia items from the 1945-47 period are a very well-compiled package. AFAIK they exist both as 3 individual LPs and as a 3-LP box set.

You're right. This is a good approach. 

I am generally really not into compilations. I want an LP, as a statement, which existed at the time. It is not a philosophical thing: just my listening habits. My worst is a gigantic undifferentiated box set.

Something like the three Herds compilations are quite historical though, so that does sound like a sensible way in, as well as the 1970s recommendations that people have kindly made.

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Speaking of the LP era, this is what I was listening to in 1959 at the age of 19.

I borrowed it from the (surprisingly progressive for the times) Leeds Public Libraries.

It's so good I'm still listening to it, but now I'm streaming it. 

Time and technology march on! :)

81gP+NHNRdL._SS500_.jpg

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3 minutes ago, BillF said:

Speaking of the LP era, this is what I was listening to in 1959 at the age of 19.

I borrowed it from the (surprisingly progressive for the times) Leeds Public Libraries.

It's so good I'm still listening to it, but now I'm streaming it. 

Time and technology march on! :)

81gP+NHNRdL._SS500_.jpg

Is this the same 3x LP collection mentioned by @Big Beat Steve?

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No, it's one LP presenting tracks by three Herman herds. All very good.

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On 7/12/2022 at 1:23 PM, BillF said:

No, it's one LP presenting tracks by three Herman herds. All very good.

Oh yes, I forgot about that one. Highly recommended. A great LP. 

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I don´t have very much big band stuff on records. But I saw Woody Herman 2 times live. The first occasion was in 1979 with the Herd, I think they had Nick Brignola on bs..., and exactly during that time the Concord-LP with star guests like Dizzy, Woody Shaw and Stan Getz was for sale. And this was the LP era. At least during the time I heard him. I later re-bought the album on CD. 
The only other Woody Herman on LP I have is "Bird and the Herd". 
The last time I saw Woody live was in 1985, but strangely it was not the Herd, it was a kind of all star thing in the "Concord-Style", I think Buddy Tate and Al Cohn were featured. 

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Posted (edited)

The ‘78 Herd I remember seeing had Lyle Mays and Frank Tiberi in the lineup as I recall it, also strongly featuring trumpeter Alan  Vizutti. A group of us got to go backstage after the concert and I remember being struck by just how short Woody was in the flesh. I don’t recall Nick Brignola that night.

The lineup I saw at Ronnie’s several years later was actually filmed live for a national broadcast slot that night. To this day, I’ve never seen that film nor do I know if it has survived (30 minute broadcast before the regular club sets).

1 hour ago, Gheorghe said:

The last time I saw Woody live was in 1985, but strangely it was not the Herd, it was a kind of all star thing in the "Concord-Style", I think Buddy Tate and Al Cohn were featured. 

By that stage the major tax fraud thing (by his accountant?) had hit and Woody would have struggled to put anything together I guess. Tragic.

Edited by sidewinder

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1 hour ago, sidewinder said:

The ‘78 Herd I remember seeing had Lyle Mays and Frank Tiberi in the lineup as I recall it, also strongly featuring trumpeter Alan  Vizutti. A group of us got to go backstage after the concert and I remember being struck by just how short Woody was in the flesh. I don’t recall Nick Brignola that night.

The lineup I saw at Ronnie’s several years later was actually filmed live for a national broadcast slot that night. To this day, I’ve never seen that film nor do I know if it has survived (30 minute broadcast before the regular club sets).

By that stage the major tax fraud thing (by his accountant?) had hit and Woody would have struggled to put anything together I guess. Tragic.

You are right, I had read about that tax thing and I remember Woody Herman in 1985 looked very tired and maybe he also had some heart condition or breath shortness, he gasped for air after the short clarinet solo he played on a slow blues. Anyway there was an air of death since George Duvivier was scheduled for bass and I would have loved to see him, but he was nearly dead and had to be replaced. Later I heard that he died right around the  same time, july 1985 I think...

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