This CD is quite a bit different than most audiophile releases for it contains rare rather than famous recordings. 1959's The Fourth Herd (which features an all-star group of studio musicians and Woody Herman alumni along with his octet of the time) was only put out briefly by Jazzland while the music on 1962's The New World of Woody Herman was never available commercially before; both were originally cut for the SESAC Transcribed Library and were available only to selected radio stations on a subscription basis. The earlier session has solo spots for tenors Zoot Sims, Al Cohn and Don Lanphere, trumpeters Nat Adderley and Red Rodney, vibraphonist Eddie Costa and Herman on clarinet, a bit of alto and two vocals; Cohn and pianist Nat Pierce wrote most of the colorful and diverse arrangements. By the later session (which has charts by Pierce, Gene Roland, Phil Wilson and Bill Chase), Woody Herman once again was leading an exciting big band of his own. Trombonist Phil Wilson, Duke Ellington's tenor Paul Gonsalves (filling in for the temporarily absent Sal Nistico) and Herman are the solo stars and (as with the first date) the music swings hard and contains its share of surprises.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow