Woody Herman / Woody Herman & The Herd / Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra

Jazz Casual: Big Bands

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Two more soundtracks from Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual public television series are paired on this compilation. Most of the music by the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra was written and arranged by co-leader Jones, starting with the gradually percolating and absolutely invigorating opener, "Just Blues." It is the section work rather than solos that drive this inspired piece. Jones' fl├╝gelhorn is featured in the pretty ballad "Kids Are Pretty People," but time unfortunately runs out before they get very far into "Don't Get Sassy." In addition to an enjoyable interview with both Jones and Lewis by the host, valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer's imaginative and extended arrangement of "St. Louis Blues" is another plus to this session. Woody Herman's set is boisterous swing at it best. Previously released by Rhino on video, it is frustrating not being able to see what is happening, but Herman's cheerleading of his young energetic group comes through in the music. The brisk foot-tapping blues "Molasses" (which Gleason amusingly refers to at the start of the interview as "lovely little quiet dinner music") and the somewhat rockish "Cousins" both feature tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico to good effect. Trumpeter Bill Chase contributed the exciting Latin number "El Toro Grande," while the one standard of the set is a moody treatment of "(It's A) Lonesome Old Town." Herman frankly tells Gleason that he doesn't envision the resurgence of interest in big bands, but indicates how much he enjoys working with one. This twin bill of rare big-band recordings is highly recommended.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 4:43
3 12:21
4 4:10
5 5:39
6 1:10
7 6:30
9 4:52
13 4:06
14 4:18
blue highlight denotes track pick