Woody Herman (Mosaic Select)

Woody Herman

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Woody Herman (Mosaic Select) Review

by Ken Dryden

Woody Herman was dedicated to keeping his big band going and was focused more on music that satisfied him than focusing on making hits. Most of the selections in this three-CD set came from an overlooked period in the clarinetist's career, his early 1960s tenure on the Phillips label. At this point, Herman had recently welcomed new arrivals like trumpeter Bill Chase, tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico, and trombonist Phil Wilson, while still talented veterans like pianist Nat Pierce, tenor saxophonist Bill Perkins, and drummer Jake Hanna. Culled from six separate albums plus a 45 pm single, the Herman band may not reach the heights of earlier groups for some fans, but they are clearly a force to be reckoned with. Among the highlights are Pierce's sauntering arrangement of Joe Newman's "Mo-Lasses," the playful "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" that also interpolates Duke Ellington's "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart," Chase's lush interpretation of the pop song "A Taste of Honey," a frisky take of Charles Mingus' "Better Get It in Your Soul," return visits to old favorites like "Bijou" and "Apple Honey," plus "You Dirty Dog," a recent composition by Ellington for his small group record date with Coleman Hawkins. This is an excellent survey of music that deserves to be remembered.

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