Woody Herman

At the Woodchopper's Ball [ASV/Living Era]

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Living Era's 1995 compilation At the Woodchopper's Ball documents singing clarinetist Woody Herman's prewar swing band, proceeding in pseudo-chronological fashion from the mid- to late '30s to just before the recording ban of 1942. The choice of material is appropriate, as Woody's predilection for sweet vocals and novelty dance tunes is balanced with some of his better instrumentals ("Blue Flame," "Sleepy Serenade," "Blues Downstairs," "Sheik of Araby," and "A String of Pearls"). Herman sings on 11 of the 25 tracks; other vocalists are Connee Boswell, Bing Crosby, Steady Nelson, Muriel Lane, and, on the bouncy "Rhumboogie," a dish by the name of Dillagene. This album offers evidence to help 21st century listeners understand how and why Woody Herman & His Orchestra were among the most popular acts in the U.S. before, during, and after the Second World War.

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