It's true that this double CD does not wrap up every last item Woody Herman cut for Columbia during this period. The LP box set Thundering Herds, for example, has 48 songs, while this has 40 (not all of which are on that box set). Still, for all listeners save completists, it will serve as an excellent overview of his records from an era that found Herman at his peak. Of most interest to those already familiar with mid-'40s Herman is the inclusion of seven previously unreleased alternate takes that are well up to official-release quality; there are also three previously issued alternates. Whether it's these rarities or well-known numbers like "Woodchopper's Ball," "Your Father's Moustache," "Caldonia," and "Bijou" (all of which are here), it's first-rank swing that was very progressive for the mid-'40s, topped off with good liner notes by Charles L. Granata and Herman pianist Ralph Burns.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2