Woody Live: East and West

Woody Herman

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Woody Live: East and West Review

by Scott Yanow

The Woody Herman Herds of the late '60s remained vibrant units, although turnover in personnel was somewhat disruptive. These two sessions recorded live in 1965 and 1967 (one in San Francisco, the other in New York City -- hence the title) miss some of the star quality of earlier years, but there are versions of timeless classics such as "I Remember Clifford," "Cousins," and "The Preacher," plus a short reworking of "Four Brothers" called "Four Brothers Revisited." The New York session, recorded on March 25, 1967 at the Riverboat Room, includes Bill Watrous on trombone, Steve Marcus on tenor sax, and Joe Temperly on bari sax, while the San Francisco band, recorded at Basin Street West from June 28 to June 30, 1965, has trumpeter Dusko Goykovich (showcased on "I Remember Clifford"), tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico, trumpeter Bill Chase, and pianist Nat Pierce. The short recording time does not detract from the solid performances of the kind to which Herman fans were accustomed, even if some of the names of players may be unfamiliar. Like other great bandleaders, Herman knew how to bring out the best in his bands. While he did not contribute any of the tunes to this recording, his mark is felt on every composition, and he performs on clarinet and alto saxophone, plus soprano saxophone. This is by no means indispensable Herd music, but it is nonetheless a fine example of where Herman was holding in the mid- to late '60s. Admirers of this big-band giant will not be disappointed.

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