Woody Herman had everyone’s respect as a bandleader
and he also enabled the careers of many of the music’s greatest
soloists, to develop in his various bands or ‘herds’, as they
were better known.
Woody could more than hold his own in any of
his bands; he was an excellent saxophone and clarinet player as
well as being a useful vocalist. He also had the kind of personality
ideal for the role of bandleader,
This collection dates from 1938 to 1943 and whilst
these were nice tight big bands, the real stamp of a Woody Herman
outfit was yet to develop. There is some nice small band numbers
from a quintet sounding a lot like Artie Shaw’s and a Dixie band
sounding a lot like Bob Crosby’s.
In the 1938 to 1943 period of course this was
‘pop’ music, whereas the later Herman bands were out and out jazz
big bands. This makes an enormous difference to the music played.
The music on this record is pleasant and very well played and
will appeal to fans of the dance band era. For me I spent a pleasant
hour listening to it, but it does not bear comparison to the later
‘Four Brothers band’ with Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Al Cohn and
that was only in the Saxes!