Various Artists

The 1940s: The Small Groups - New Directions

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This is a particularly strong collection. Woody Herman's Woodchoppers, a nonet taken from his 1946 big band, is featured on ten selections (two of which were previously unissued) with solos from the leader-clarinetist, trumpeter Sonny Berman, trombonist Bill Harris, Flip Phillips on tenor and vibraphonist Red Norvo. In addition, drummer Gene Krupa and his 1945 trio (with Charlie Ventura on tenor and either Teddy Napoleon or George Walters on piano) play five songs (four previously unreleased) and, best of all, Harry James and his octet perform "Pagan Love Song" and a brilliant version of "Tuxedo Junction"; James takes a memorable boppish solo on the latter (which also features altoist Willie Smith and trombonist Ziggy Elmer).