Woody Herman

The Best of the Big Bands [Columbia]

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This CD reissue of classic material from the First and (in two cases) The Second Herds is a bit of a mess. Despite having chatty liner notes, there are no listings of Herman's sidemen or the exact recording dates. Also, some so-so material is mixed in with a few of The First Herd's greatest performances and the whole set is made anonymous by the meaningless title Best of the Big Bands. Highlights include "Caldonia," "Laura," "Apple Honey" and "Northwest Passage," so if given a budget price this might serve as a good introduction to Herman, but in general it is advisable to wait until this material comes around again.

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