Woody Herman

The Jazz Swinger

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Apparently, the same Columbia executives who tried to get Miles Davis to record an album of forgettable melodies from the film Dr. Doolittle and were unsuccessful in persuading Thelonious Monk to record Beatles songs somehow talked Woody Herman into singing songs associated with Al Jolson. Not only did Herman have a much different singing style than Jolson but many of the dated lyrics were embarrassing even 30 years ago. As for the arrangements for the orchestra, the more modern they were, the cornier they sounded (particularly Bill Holman's modernization of "Swanee" and "Toot, Toot, Tootsie"). What a mess -- the only likable part about this misfire is the album drawing of Herman singing while down on one knee like Jolson; fortunately he was not drawn in blackface.