Woody Herman & the First Herd

Woody Herman & the First Herd

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Two 1945 CBS radio remotes featuring Woody Herman & the First Herd make up this Sandy Hook LP compilation, which has excellent sound, due in part to the mint condition transcription discs utilized by producer Michael Rophone. Though little more than the songs and recording dates are listed on the album jacket, Herman aficionados will recognize the bandleader's easygoing vocals ("Don't Worry 'Bout That Mule," which was a hit for Louis Jordan, "I Wonder" and "I Never Thought I'd Sing the Blues.") Ballad singer Frances Wayne ("There's No You," "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe" and "I Don't Care Who Knows It") falls more into a torch category than jazz, though her vocals are enjoyable. But Herman's First Herd is best remembered for its superb instrumentals and it features two soloists who developed a strong following, tenor saxophonist Flip Phillips and trombonist Bill Harris. Their solos on two of the band's most popular numbers particularly stand out, "Northwest Passage" and "Apple Honey," though both are unfortunately faded at the end of the respective broadcasts. While this music has been reissued in various anthologies over the years, most of these records and CDs have been available only briefly, so Woody Herman fans are advised to pick up this LP immediately if they run across it.