Clarinettist and bandleader Woody Herman was one of the leading figures of the swing era and beyond, with his various bands, generally known as Herman's Herd, being known for the force and originality of their music, which was often cutting edge and experimental for its time. However, his records were always very popular, and regularly featured in the Billboard charts from the 1930s through to the 1950s.This collection, unusually perhaps for jazz music, focuses on those chart hits, and primarily comprises the 34 chart hits he had, which included the No. 1 hit Blues In The Night and the Top 5 hits Laura and Caldonia. Herman himself was a noted vocalist, and he features as a singer on some of these titles, while others provide a showcase for two of his female singers during the '40s, Frances Wayne and Muriel Lane. Alongside those hits, and interspersed within the chronological presentation of the 44 recordings in the 2-CD collection, are other titles which were not hits, but which are recognised by commentators and critics and being among his most interesting and notable recordings, such as his suite, with Igor Stravinsky conducting, called The Ebony Concerto. The range of material in this anthology provides a fascinating overview of the Herman's innovative, but always fresh and entertaining music during this dynamic era in jazz and popular music.
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1 This set simply represents the most complete and comprehensive coverage of the singles of Woody Herman during his charted career from 1937 – 1956. The best similar compilation is “The Woody Herman Story”, a 4-CD 91 songs set with much less coverage of his singles, while the price is very expensive.
2 All his charted hit singles (with minor exceptions, see later) are present, including “Blues in the Night”, “Laura”, “Caldonia” and “Sabre Dance”, plus many uncharted rare gems. Many of these songs are making their CD debut.
3 The songs are sequenced chronologically. This reflects the care of the compiler in finalizing the song listing.
4 The sound is very well remastered, as per usual high standards at Acrobat Music.
5 Another treasure of any Acrobat Music release is their booklet. Here, we have a 24-page booklet, with an informative and detailed essay by Paul Watts. The song listing is very detailed, including singles labels and numbers, chart positions, release dates together with names of personnel for each song. Great job!
1 As noted in the booklet, this set focuses on the charted hits. But some charted a-sides are missing:
(1) “Blues on Parade” (Decca 2933)(a-side, US 17/1940)
(2) “Get Your Boots Laced Papa (Parts 1 & 2)(Decca 3187)(a-side, US 27/1940)
(3) “Looking For Yesterday” (Decca 3397)(a-side, US 15/1940)
(4) “Tallahassee” (with Dinah Shore)(Columbia 37387)(a-side, US 15/1947)
The above 4 missing songs are based on the updated “Pop Memories” and “Pop Hits 1940-1954” books by Joel Whitburn. There are 71 minutes on each disc. Acrobat Music could have easily filled up the remaining space with the above songs. But if you are reading the original “Pop Memories” book, there are actually 16 songs missing.
If you are looking for the Singles Collection of Woody Herman, this current set is the definitive collection covering his entire charting career with great sound, and is highly recommended.
I purposely leave the song listing to the end in case you are not interested and not to waste your time. But if you have time, reading through the song listing, it is like going down memory lane. I have also provided the labels and numbers plus chart positions and release dates (US=US Singles Chart prior to 1955; BB Pop=Billboard Hot 100; BB R&B=Billboard Rhythm & Blues Chart):
01 I DOUBLE DARE YOU (Decca 1523)(a-side, US 18/December 1937)
02 WOODCHOPPER’S BALL (Decca 2440)(a-side, US 9/May 1939)
03 BLUE EVENING (Decca 2250)(a-side, US 9/June 1939)
04 THERE I GO (Decca 3454)(a-side, US 13/January 1941)
05 FRENESI (Decca 3427)(a-side, US 16/January 1941)
06 BLUE FLAME (Decca 3643)(a-side, US 5/April 1941)*the band’s theme song; his fifth biggest hit!
07 G’BYE NOW (Decca 3745)(a-side, US 10/June 1941)*from movie “Hellzapoppin’” starring Ole Olsen
08 BY-U BY-O (THE LOU’SIANA LULLABY)(Decca 4024)(a-side, US 20/December 1941)
09 BLUES IN THE NIGHT (MY MAMA DONE TOL’ ME)(Decca 4030)(a-side, US 1(1)/January 1942)*his biggest hit; from movie “Blues In The Night”
10 ROSE O’DAY (Decca 4113)(a-side, US 18/March 1942)
11 AMEN (Decca 18346)(a-side, US 5/September 1942)
12 FOUR OR FIVE TIMES (Decca 18526)(a-side, US 17/July 1943)
13 DO NOTHIN’ TILL YOU HEAR FROM ME (Decca 18578)(a-side, US 7/February 1944; BB R&B 4/1944)
14 THE MUSIC STOPPED (vocal: Frances Wayne)(Decca 18577)(a-side, US 10/March 1944)*from movie “Higher And Higher” starring Frank Sinatra
15 BY THE RIVER OF THE ROSES (Decca 18578)(b-side to “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me”, US 12/April 1944)
16 MILKMAN, KEEP THOSE BOTTLES QUIET (Decca 18603)(a-side, US 10/June 1944)*from movie “Broadway Rhythm” starring George Murphy and Ginny Simms
17 LET ME LOVE YOU TONIGHT (vocal: Billie Rogers)(Decca 18169)(a-side, US 18/December 1944)
18 SATURDAY NIGHT (IS THE LONELIEST NIGHT IN THE WEEK)(vocal: Frances Wayne)(Decca 18641)(a-side, US 18/February 1945)
19 LAURA (Columbia 36785)(a-side, US 4/April 1945)*title song from movie starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews; his fourth biggest hit!
20 APPLE HONEY (Columbia 367803)(a-side, US 16/July 1945)
21 CALDONIA (Columbia 36789)(a-side, US 2(2)/May 1945)*his second biggest hit!
22 A KISS GOODNIGHT (Columbia 36815)(a-side, US 9/July 1945)
23 NORTHWEST PASSAGE (Columbia 36835)(a-side, US 13/September 1945)
01 FAN IT (and his Woodchoppers, featuring Red Norvo)(Columbia 37059)(a-side, BB R&B 4/August 1946)
02 GEE, IT’S GOOD TO HOLD YOU (Columbia 36870)(a-side, US 17/January 1946)
03 EVERYBODY KNEW BUT ME (Columbia 36909)(b-side to “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow”, February 1946)
04 LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW! (Columbia 36909)(a-side, US 7/February 1946)
05 ATLANTA, G.A. (Columbia 36949)(a-side, US 11/April 1946)
06 RED TOP (live at Carnegie Hall)(MGM 30601)(uncharted a-side, March 1946)
07 HALLELUJAH (live at Carnegie Hall)(MGM 606)(uncharted a-side, March 1946)
08 SURRENDER (Columbia 36985)(a-side, US 8/June 1946)
09 MABEL! MABEL! (Columbia 36995)(a-side, US 12/August 1946)*based on 1894 tune by Dvorak “Humoresque”; Red Norvo, vibraphone
10 EBONY CONCERTO (Columbia 7479)(uncharted a-side, August 1946)
11 LADY McGOWAN’S DREAM (Columbia 38366)(uncharted a-side, September 1946)
12 ACROSS THE ALLEY FROM THE ALAMO (accompanied by the Four Chips)(Columbia 37289)(a-side, US 12/May 1947)
13 THAT’S MY DESIRE (accompanied by the Four Chips)(Columbia 37329)(a-side, US 13/June 1947)
14 CIVILIZATION (BONGO, BONGO, BONGO)(Columbia 37885)(a-side, US 15/January 1948)
15 SABRE DANCE (Columbia 38102)(a-side, US 3/March 1948)*his third biggest hit; based on Khatchaturian’s “Gayne Ballet Suite”
16 FOUR BROTHERS (Columbia 38304)(uncharted a-side, December 1947)
17 LEMON DROP (Capitol 15365)(uncharted a-side, December 1948)
18 EARLY AUTUMN (Mars 300/Capitol 57-616)(a-side, US 28/November 1952)
19 BLUES IN ADVANCE (Mars M100)(uncharted a-side, May 1952)
20 LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING (Capitol 3202)(a-side, BB Pop 79/November 1955)*title song from movie starring William Holden and Jennifer Jones
21 I DON’T WANT NOBODY (TO HAVE MY LOVE BUT YOU)(Capitol 3488)(a-side, BB Pop 75/August 1956)
I hope the above information is helpful to you.