Woody Herman and His Orchestra

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Woody Herman 1976

Woody Herman and His Orchestra was a jazz band led by Woody Herman , which had their great success in the late swing era from the late 1930s to the 1980s. After the beginnings as The Band That Play the Blues , the highlights of the band's career included the First Herd , which in 1945/46 also integrated elements of bebop , and the Second Herd or Four Brothers Band , which started from 1947 to 1949 under the influence of cool Jazz stood. In different line-ups, Herman worked with other big band projects until the 1980s , increasingly integrated contemporary jazz elements and thus made a significant contribution to the further development of big band jazz.

Band history

The Band That Plays the Blues: 1936-1944

Occupation 1939
Trumpet: Steady Nelson , Clarence Willard, Bob Price
Trombone: Neil Reid, Toby Tyler
Clarinet: Woody Herman
Saxophone: Joe Denton, Ray Hopfner (as), Saxie Mansfield, Ronnie Perry (ts)
Piano: Tommy Linehan
Guitar: Hy White
Bass: Walter Yoder
Drums: Frank Carlson
Arrangement: Jiggs Noble

After Woody Herman took over the Isham Jones band in 1936 and continued it as a band cooperative (The Band That Plays the Blues) , in the following years he made stylistic changes away from blues and Dixieland jazz to swing in sophisticated arrangements based on the model of the Duke Ellington Orchestra . Gordon Jenkins and Joe Bishop , who had been members of the Jones band, brought some arrangements with them, while guitarist Chick Reeves provided more. Soloist on the trombone in “I've Had the Blues So Long” and “Take It Easy” (1936) was Sonny Lee .

Roseland Ballroom in New York City

The band also took on pop songs and instrumental numbers apart from jazz in their repertoire; She made her debut in late 1936 after six weeks of rehearsals at the Roseland Ballroom in Brooklyn . In January 1937 she gave a concert at the Roseland in Manhattan ; the performances were broadcast on the radio and quickly made known. The Count Basie Orchestra played there at the same time ; The band's blues-based arrangements were completely new to the Herman musicians, and they interviewed Basie's musicians like Jimmy Rushing , who said, "Man, it's the blues, the twelve-bar blues . " This confused the young white musicians who only associated the blues with sung songs. Herman's arrangers, however, carefully analyzed the performances of the Basie band in the Roseland Ballroom .

The band name The Band That Plays the Blues , the musicians initially took literally; when they played at Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook , they played their show entirely with blues. At the Rice Hotel in Houston , the manager reacted to the bluesy music: "Would you kindly stop singing and playing that nigger blues?"

In November 1940, the later band name (Woody Herman's) Herd first appeared in an article that the music critic George Simon had published in the Metronome , in which he described a bus trip with the Harry James band:

In Hartford, Connecticut, "a grand reunion [ocurred] between the James boys and Woody Herman's herd, playing the State Theater here."

After their initial successes, The Band That Play the Blues went on numerous tours, including a. with a concert in Herman's hometown Milwaukee . After they recorded a number of blues numbers such as Dupree Blues or Laughing Boy Blues for Decca , the band had their first big hit in the United States in 1939 with Woodchopper's Ball , written by Joe Bishop and recorded in April 1939. Herman played the title band in the movie What's Cookin? . For Decca, the band recorded the title Blues on Parade on December 13, 1939 , which rose to position 17 on the US hit parade in January 1940 and stayed there for two weeks.

Ray Wetzel (1947 or 1948)
Photograph by William P. Gottlieb

Other successful titles were Blue Prelude , which should be the first theme song of the band, There I Go , Frenesi and recorded on February 13, 1941 (1940) Blue Flame , the second song that make the band popular and based on on blues harmonies Should become the band's trademark. In 1941 the Woody Herman band made it to the top of the swing bands; she replaced the Glenn Miller Orchestra at the Glen Island Casino and had an engagement at the Hollywood Palladium Los Angeles. 4,800 visitors came to the opening concert.

At # 10 on the charts, the band came in June 1941 with G'bye Now with the band singer Muriel Lane; it was the first hit for the young songwriting team Ray Evans and Jay Livingston . Her version of the popular Harold Arlen / Johnny Mercer number This Time The Dream's on Me (# 8) was eight weeks in the US charts in late 1941 . The band's first number 1 hit also came from the pen of this songwriting team: Blues in the Night was at # 1 for four weeks and was in the charts for 18 weeks. One of his next successes, Amen [Yea-Man] (# 5), was Herman in the film What's Cookin '? (1942) presented. Four Or Five Times (# 14) was a 1942 version of a 1928 King Oliver number; Do Nothing till You Hear from Me (# 7) was the successful secondary use of the Ellington composition from 1940, now u. a. with Ray Wetzel (tp), Eddie Bert (tb), Johnny Bothwell (as), Allen Eager (ts) and Chubby Jackson on bass in the band. Tenor saxophonist Ben Webster provided the real Ellington sound .

After the United States entered World War II , Herman had to change his band personnel frequently; In addition to Webster, he also used other Ellington musicians such as Johnny Hodges , Juan Tizol and Ray Nance for recordings . Herman also hired Ellington-style arranger Dave Matthews . Due to the line-up changes, the band changed continuously. In 1942 he recorded Dizzy Gillespie's track Down Under , the first big band recording of a bebop number; the trumpeter also played briefly in the band. Carlo Bohländer said of the changes:

"The transition to more modern arrangements that took place in the meantime and the expansion of the big band line-up at the turn of the year resulted in the First Herd, which echoed the bebop with ( unison ) eighth note movements, but was still very much oriented towards the swing style."

1943/44 Herman band had by the Recording ban a limited audience; Herman circumvented Petrillo's ban on commercial recordings by playing several swinging V-discs . He achieved success titles in the charts such as The Music Stopped (# 10), Milkman Keep Those Bottles Quiet (# 10), Let Me Love You Tonight (# 18) and the Cahn - Styne number Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night in the Week) (# 15).

First Herd: 1945–1946

Occupation 1945
Trumpet: Neal Hefti, Sonny Berman, Pete Candoli, Chuck Frankhauser, Carl Warwick, Ray Wetzel
Trombone: Bill Harris, Ed Kiefer, Ralph Pfeffner
Saxophone: Woody Herman (cl, as), Sam Marowitz, John LaPorta (as), Flip Phillips, Pete Mondello (ts), Skippy deSair (bar)
Piano: Dave Burns
Vibraphone: Margie Hyams
Bass: Chubby Jackson
Drums: Dave Tough

In the winter of 1944/45 Herman made further changes; subsequently the (new) band became known as Woody Herman's Herd , or First Herd .

George Simon expressed his enthusiasm in September 1944 in an enthusiastic review in the Metronome :

“'Before you can have a really great band,' Woody Herman once told me, 'you have to be able to really play nice music every night. You can't just play some nice arrangements and then just average stuff the rest of the night. ' Today Woody Herman's band qualifies as a 'really great band' according to Woody Herman's own demanding guidelines and without any reservation. She can and does everything. "

The first recordings of this band in February 1945 also included the Johnny Mercer ballad Laura , which hit the charts at # 4, and the composition Apple Honey , attributed to Herman , probably based collectively on George Gershwin's I Got Rhythm .

Walter Hendl, Tony Aless , Billy Bauer, Chubby Jackson, Don Lamond, Woody Herman and Flip Phillips, around April 1946. Photo: Gottlieb

Between 1944 and 1946 the band had a weekly radio show on the Old Gold program; Woody Herman then gave his composition Apple Honey the name of the additive that his sponsor added to the Old Gold cigarettes "to guarantee the fresh apple-honey taste".

In early 1946, Woody Herman and His Orchestra was an entirely new band; The fresh arrangements by Neal Hefti and Ralph Burns in titles such as Apple Honey or Goosy Gander were formative . The First Herd had a record deal with Columbia Records and recorded a number of exceptional tracks, including a cover version of Louis Jordan's rhythm and blues song Caldonia and the swinging instrumental number Northwest Passage .

In addition to Caldonia , which made it to # 2 on the charts and had the B-side Happiness is a Thing Called Joe , First Herd continued to be represented in the US charts in 1945/46 with titles such as Gee, It's Good to Hold You (# 17), Let it Snow! (# 7), Irving Berlins Everybody Knew But Me (# 11), Atlanta, GA (# 11), Surrender (# 8), Mabel! Mabel! (# 12), a hit based on the melody of Antonín Dvořák's Humoreske , No. 7, op.101.

One of the main features of the First Herd was the five-piece Trumpet section , in which well-known soloists such as Neal Hefti , Shorty Rogers , Sonny Berman , Marky Markowitz and Pete Candoli played; As a tenor saxophonist, Flip Phillips was a defining soloist, the trombonist Bill Harris "set himself through with his bijou solo as an essential trombone part". The rhythm section , which presented "a massive, swinging beat", formed Ralph Burns (piano / arrangement), Billy Bauer , bassist Chubby Jackson (who also acted as co-leader), the young vibraphonist Marjorie Hyams and the drummer Dave Tough ; added came Mary Ann McCall as new Bandvokalistin.

Bill Harris, Denzil Best , Flip Phillips, Billy Bauer, Lennie Tristano , Chubby Jackson, ca.September 1947. Photo: Gottlieb.

According to Joachim-Ernst Berendt , the “ first Herd was perhaps the most vital white jazz orchestra that ever existed.” At the end of 1945, the First Herd reached the height of its success; the band won the Downbeat and Metronome readers' poll; the band members Phillips, Harris and Tough were each elected to the top instrumentalists in the country, but then the terminally ill Tough had to leave the band and was replaced by Don Lamond . Band vocalist Frances Wayne had a hit with Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe .

With the band members Bill Harris, Shorty Rogers, Sonny Berman, Flip Phillips, Jimmy Rowles, Billy Bauer, Chubby Jackson, Don Lamond and Red Norvo , who was there from the beginning of 1946, Herman formed a smaller octet offshoot called The Woodchoppers , with the he recorded Steps / Four Men on a Horse in 1946 . Igor Stravinsky was so impressed with the band that he composed the Ebony Concerto (1945) for the orchestra, which First Herd performed at New York's Carnegie Hall in March 1946 . The result produced ripe mixed reactions; Barry Ulanov reported in the Metronome that “sounds more like a French imitation of Igor than the great man himself”.

It was characteristic of the “spirit of the band”, quotes J.-E. Berendt the bassist Chubby Jackson, "how the musicians often approached each other after their performances and congratulated each other on the solos they had played." Despite the band's popularity, Herman disbanded them in December 1946; the reasons were financial and personal, as the bandleader wanted to spend more time with his family after buying a home in Hollywood. Metronome announced the departure of the “herd” in an editorial entitled Obituary for Rhythm and wrote, “Woody Herman's magnificent band is dead. May they rest in peace.”

Second stove: 1947–1949

Occupation 1947
Trumpet: John Best, Ray Linn, George Seaburg, Zeke Zarchy
Trombone: Red Ballard, Tom Bassett, Murray McEachern, Si Zentner
Saxophone: Woody Herman (cl, voc), Heinie Beau , Skeets Herfurt (as), Stan Getz, Babe Russin (ts), Bob Lawson (bars)
Piano: Jimmy Rowles
Guitar: Gene Sargent
Bass: Walter Yoder
Drums: Jackie Mills
Arrangement: Ralph Burns

In mid-October 1947, Herman formed Second Herd in Hollywood ; many music critics called this band with Stan Getz and Zoot Sims the greatest band of the time. The core of the Second Herd was a group of saxophonists called The Four Brothers , who gave the band its specific sound: Stan Getz , Zoot Sims , Herbie Steward (who was replaced by Al Cohn in January 1948 ), and Serge Chaloff . Stan Getz reported on the creation:

“We had a band in 'Pontrelli' in the Spanish quarter of Los Angeles . A trumpeter named Tony de Carlo was the band leader and we only had his trumpet, four tenor saxophonists and rhythm. We had a couple of arrangements by Gene Roland and Jimmy Giuffre ”.
Serge Chaloff 1947.
Photo: William P. Gottlieb

Roland and Giuffre had shaped the Four Brothers sound on the model of Lester Young ; Woody Herman had heard the four tenorists Giuffre, Getz, Sims and Herbie Stewart “more or less by chance and was so enthusiastic about their sound that he hired the latter three for his band. In place of the fourth tenor, he put the baritone saxophone by Serge Chaloff, who gave the combination of tenor instruments additional warmth and depth with his dark baritone horn. "

The band also included trumpeters Shorty Rogers, Ernie Royal and Bernie Glow , trombonist Earl Swope , pianist Fred Otis and drummer Don Lamond ; at times there were also Al Porcino , Shadow Wilson , Red Rodney , Billy Mitchell , Lou Levy , Gene Ammons , Jimmy Raney and Oscar Pettiford .

For the Four Brothers , this band in the band, Jimmy Giuffre wrote the title of the same name; Al Cohn wrote the bebop number The Goof and I . “Their style was characterized by the fusion of cool sound , modern harmony and eighth note swing ,” wrote Carlo Bohländer. Although the Second Herd never reached the popularity of the previous group, it had a higher level of creativity and a considerable talent for soloists. Only with the vocal numbers I Told Ya, I Love Ya, Now Get Out (# 23) and a jazz version of Chatschaturjan's Saber Dance (# 3) did she hit the US charts in early 1948.

The Second Herd existed until 1949 when Herman reduced it to a smaller ensemble, in which u. a. Conte Candoli , Milt Jackson , Bill Harris, Dave Barbour , Red Mitchell and Shelly Manne played. Between December 1949 and January 1950 he toured with this formation in the USA and in Cuba. One of the reasons for the breakup was the heroin consumption of some band members

Third hearth: 1950–1958

Occupation 1954
Trumpet: Dick Collins, John Howell, Al Porcino, Reuben McFall, Bill Castagnino, Cy Touff
Trombone: Dick Kenney, Keith Moon
Saxophone: Jerry Coker, Dick Hafer, Bill Perkins, Jack Nimitz
Piano: Nat Pierce
Bass: Thomas "Red" Kelly
Drums: Kind of mardigan

In the spring of 1950, Herman formed the Third Herd , which retained the Four Brothers sound; his musicians included Urbie Green , Carl Fontana , Bill Perkins , Dave McKenna , Red Mitchell , Terry Gibbs , Milt Jackson, and pianist and arranger Nat Pierce . Later came Dick Collins , Doug Mettome , Don Fagerquist , Phil Urso , Shorty Rogers , Arno Marsh , Stu Williamson , Ernie Royal, Al Cohn, Bill Harris, Chubby Jackson, Chuck Flores , Dick Hafer , Cy Touff , Kai Winding , Frank Rehak and Sonny Igoe added.

In May / June 1951, the Third Herd gave a three-week concert at the Hollywood Palladium. Al Cohn was now arranger for the band, Shorty Rogers was a soloist in titles such as More Moon . In addition to Woody Herman, Dolly Houston appeared as a vocalist . On July 22, 1951, was a joint concert with Charlie Parker and Third Herd in the Municipal Arena Kansas by Kansas City (Missouri) . In 1954 the band toured Europe; In 1955, Herman dissolved the Third Herd , in order to put together a big band again the following year, with which he went on a tour to South America sponsored by the State Department in 1958 . In 1959 he performed with an all-star orchestra consisting of old and new band members at the Monterey Jazz Festival . Major members of his band in the late 1950s were Nat Adderley , Vince Guaraldi , Richie Kamuca , Victor Feldman , Bill Harris and Zoot Sims.

The Fourth Herd and The Swingin 'Herd from 1960

Dusko Goykovic in the Unterfahrt jazz club (Munich 2009)

After the end of the swing era, Herman continued working as a band leader for smaller ensembles and occasionally for big bands until the 1980s. From 1960 the big band took on a solid form again when he put together a new ensemble with the musicians Bill Chase , Carmen Leggio , Sal Nistico , Phil Wilson , Henry Southall and Jake Hanna , which from 1964 was called Fourth Herd . "Their style was the transfer of hard bop to the big band."

Some of the formations in the following years under the names The Fourth Herd , The Swingin 'Herd or The Thundering Herds toured inside and outside the United States, with performances a.o. a. at the Antibes Jazz Festival in 1965 and in Basin 'Street West in San Francisco, where the live album Woody's Winners (1965) was recorded. In 1968 the band performed at the Newport Jazz Festival ; In 1969 she could be heard in Germany.

Newly added in the 1960s were young musicians such as Chuck Andrus , Alan Broadbent , Harold Danko , Dusko Goykovich , Tom Harrell , Bobby Jones , Andy McGhee , Don Rader , Frank Tiberi , Gary Klein and in the 1970 / 80s John Fedchock , Greg Herbert , Andy LaVerne , Tony Klatka , Jim Pugh , Steve Turre and Joel Weiskopf . Herman's band also processed musical influences from Thelonious Monk (Blue Monk) , Charles Mingus (Better Get It in Your Soul) and Herbie Hancock (Watermelon Man) as well as the emerging beat and rock music during this phase .

In the 1970s, Herman played on soprano saxophone John Coltrane's Giant Steps . Woody Herman's anniversary tour also included numerous other musicians such as Joe Lovano , the climax of which was The 40th Anniversary Concert in New York's Carnegie Hall in November 1976, which also included Stan Getz , Chubby Jackson , Zoot Sims , Al Cohn , Jimmy Giuffre , Jimmy Rowles and Flip Phillips attended. After Woody Herman's death on October 29, 1987, Herman's long-time tenor saxophonist Frank Tiberi took over the band, who continued to lead it in the sense of Herman, but always maintained his musical independence and continued to develop the band musically.

Discographic notes

Woody Herman's “Red Top”, arranged by Neal Hefti and recorded on September 5, 1944, was released on V-Disc
Woody Herman, New York City, circa April 1946. Photo: William P. Gottlieb

The Band That Play the Blues

  • Blues on Parade (MCA, 1937-42), u. a. with Sam Armato
  • Woody Herman 1939 (Classics)

First stove

  • The Thundering Herds 1945–1947 (Columbia, 1945–47)
  • Northwest Passage Live 1945 (Jass, 1945)
  • Blowing Up a Storm! (Columbia, 1945-47)
  • The V-Disc Years 1 & 2 ( Hep Records , 1945-47)
  • At Carnegie Hall, 1946 (Universal / MGM, 1946)

Second stove

  • Keeper of the Flame (Capitol, 1948-49)
  • At Palladium Hollywood / Commodore Hotel New York 1948 (Storyville, 1948)

Third stove

  • Live at the Edgewater (Jerden, 1950)
  • Early Autumn (Discovery, 1952-54)
  • Songs for Hip Lovers (Verve 1957)

Fourth Herd / The Swingin 'Herd

  • Encore: 1963 (Universal, 1963)
  • Woody Herman: 1964 (Philips, 1964)
  • Woody's Winners (1965)
  • The Complete Capitol Recordings of Woody Herman 1948-1956 ( Mosaic , ed. 2000)
  • The Complete Woody Herman Decca, Mars, MGM Sessions (1943-54) (Mosaic, ed. 2019)


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Leonard Feather , Ira Gitler : The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press, Oxford, etc. 1999, ISBN 0-19-532000-X .
  2. ^ A b c d e Carlo Bohländer , Karl Heinz Holler, Christian Pfarr: Reclams Jazzführer . 5th, revised and supplemented edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-15-010464-5 .
  3. a b c d e f George T. Simon : The golden era of big bands. Hannibal, Höfen 2004, ISBN 3-85445-243-8 , p. 225.
  4. ^ Biographical entry in the Handbook of Texas
  5. a b c d e f g h Lawrence McClellan: The later swing era, 1942 to 1955
  6. ^ Preston Love: A thousand Honey Creeks later: My life in music from Basie to Motown
  7. Robert c. Kriebel: Blue flame: Woody Herman's life in music
  8. a b c d Chart information from Gerhard Klußmeier: Jazz in the Charts. Another view on jazz history. Liner notes and booklet for the 100 CD edition. Membrane International GmbH, ISBN 978-3-86735-062-4 .
  9. ^ A b Wisconsin Biographical Dictionary By Caryn Hannan
  10. a b c d Joachim Ernst Berendt and Günther Huesmann: Das Jazzbuch . Frankfurt / M .; Fischer TB 1994, p. 511.
  11. The Essential Jazz Records: Modernism to postmodernism, By Max Harrison, Charles Fox, Eric Thacker, Stuart Nicholson
  12. ^ Pat Browne: The guide to United States popular culture
  13. ^ Mark Christopher Carnes, Paul R. Betz, American Council of Learned Societies: American national biography: Supplement
  14. Discographic information on: Standard Times - The Third Herd
  15. Jack Bowers Woody Herman: The Third Herd in All about Jazz (2001)
  16. ^ Review of Scott Yanow's album Live at Monterey at Allmusic . Retrieved January 28, 2012.
  17. See Ian Carr , Brian Priestley , Digby Fairweather (Eds.): Rough Guide Jazz. 1995, ISBN 1-85828-137-7 or Richard Cook , Brian Morton : The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP and Cassette . 2nd Edition. Penguin, London 1994, ISBN 0-14-017949-6 .
  18. Big Band Library