Woody Herman

The Everest Years

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The music on this sampler is drawn from five different albums: five of the dozen selections on The Herd Rides Again, four from the dozen cuts on Herman's Heat & Puente's Beat, four of the five numbers from Woody Woody (leaving off "Summer Sequence"), four of the dozen performances included on Chubby Takes Over (which has the Woody Herman Orchestra headed by bassist Chubby Jackson), and a version of Stravinsky's Ebony Concerto that features clarinetist John LaPorta. Although it would have been preferable to have all of the music released on a three-CD set or maybe on two CDs (since Herman's Heat & Puente's Beat is available in full by itself), this is an excellent sampler with many high points. At the time, Woody Herman did not have a regular big band (it would not be reactivated until later in 1959), so these overlapping orchestras feature alumni from his first three Herds along with a few studio musicians and some jazz stars (such as valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and tenor saxophonist Paul Quinichette) who were not part of other Herman bands. There is a lot of variety, including features for guitarist Charlie Byrd (a couple years before he discovered bossa nova), a few selections with Tito Puente's rhythm section, Ebony Concerto, and spirited remakes of earlier Herman hits such as "Caldonia," "Blowin' Up a Storm," and "Woodchopper's Ball." Unfortunately, the liner notes are microscopic (better get a magnifying glass) and there are some good selections missing, but overall this is an excellent sampler of Woody Herman's 1958 Everest recordings.

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