The Complete Woody Herman Columbia (1945-7)(#223)

Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set


The Complete Woody Herman Columbia (1945-7)(#223)
" Playing the brilliant arrangements of the 22 year old Ralph Burns, Herman and his Thundering Herds made music that is as electrifying today as it was six decades ago." - Loren Schoenberg, liner notes

This set is Running Low
Limited Edition: 5000 copies

7 CDs -  $119.00


Big Band? - This Is It. This Is THE Set.

These are the recordings that introduced a new sound and fury to band music in the 1940s. The musicians and arrangers whose names you think of first. The songs that topped the charts then, and are most-remembered today. All from the one bandleader ahead of anyone else.

Here they are, massively collected on seven CDs from the Columbia vaults for the first time anywhere: Woody Herman's First Herd, plus first recordings by The Second Herd, and the "group within the group," The Woodchoppers. It's a set we've been eager to release for years now, documenting the early evolution of one of the most important voices in jazz.

But given Mosaic's mania for completeness, we've found much more than the Herds you know. The set's 141 tracks include a whopping 35 alternate takes and 10 previously unissued tunes. You'll listen in during rehearsals, and discover significant but rejected takes, on such timeless hits as "Apple Honey," "Caldonia," "Goosey Gander," "The Good Earth," "Wild Root," "Igor," "Sidewalks of Cuba," and "Keen and Peachy." There are also extended works done by the band, including "Lady McGowan's Dream" and the classic "Summer Sequence (Part 4)" which includes a previously unissued alternate featuring a Serge Chaloff solo after the famous Stan Getz solo. You'll recognize it - the piece later became the Getz feature "Early Autumn."

All these revealing delights are presented in lavish Mosaic style with sound re-mastered to our demanding specifications almost entirely from the original lacquer discs.

From the rhythmically-inspired "The Good Earth" and the electrifying crowd-pleaser "Caldonia" to the cool, career-breaking "Four Brothers," Herman's accomplishments are even more noteworthy when you consider they came largely after the popularity of big bands had tapered.

Musicians and Music Lovers

The Herd's roots are in the dance organizations that employed Herman in the 1930s. Herman -- a clarinetist -- worked around Chicago and on the road in a number of different bands, and finally began building his own. While he had a couple of blues hits, the band didn't do much of any great significance until the mid-1940s when he and his members fell under the spell of two extraordinary influences: Ellington and bebop.

Herman's men were different from the rest. They didn't just work in music - they were into it. They carried records with them on the road and listened to the best of everything in jazz. Compositionally, that meant Ellington. Improvisationally, it meant bebop. "I would say that I got into jazz when I got into Woody Herman's band," Neal Hefti, trumpeter and arranger, related later.

Hefti was one of many arrangers working with Herman in those years who gave the band its distinctive voice. The others included Chubby Jackson, Ralph Burns, Flip Phillips and Bill Harris. The blend of modern writing and improvising over traditionally-powered big band arrangements is what makes the music sound fresh -- even today. The soloing was top notch as well, by Harris, Pete Candoli, Shorty Rogers, Red Norvo and others.

The first five discs are all First Herd and you owe it to yourself to hear again what was going on with this band. It's clear these arrangers were devouring everything they could find, incorporating much that was revolutionary, inspirational, eclectic and surprising into what was essentially a popular form. In addition to the gems listed earlier, you'll find vocalist Frances Wayne's signature "Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe" and the "Ebony Concerto," composed for the band and conducted by Igor Stravinsky.

One disc by the Woodchoppers (a pared-down group of the top players from the first orchestra) includes, on many previously unissued takes, the fleet soloing of Sonny Berman on trumpet, Harris on trombone, Herman, Phillips on tenor saxophone, vibist Red Norvo, Rogers or Jimmy Rowles on piano, guitarists Billy Bauer and Chuck Wayne, Jackson or Joe Mondragon on bass, Don Lamond on drums and the arrangements of Ralph Burns.

A Sound Shift

After disbanding in 1946 while Herman tried to become a homebody, he ended up forming what would be called The Second Herd within a year. The group had an unmistakably different attitude that can be summed up in a few names: Herbie Steward, Zoot Sims, Stan Getz and Serge Chaloff. Later, Steward would be replaced by Al Cohn, but this Second Herd also became known as the Four Brothers band because of the Jimmy Guiffre hit that featured the saxophone section. These guys played it cool, in the Lester Young style. Their attitude defined this group more than the fire of Herman's previous organization. Steward's uncomplicated lines; Chaloff's emotionalism; Sims' light, natural swing; Getz's impeccable phrasing; Cohn's rich tone. Together, they blended like nothing anyone had heard before.

"Four Brothers" is the classic from the Second Herd, but you'll pour over fourteen more gems and nine previously unheard alternates within these recordings.

All in all, the set cleans up once and for all the convoluted release of music from three 78 album sets, one EP, two 10-in LPs, seven 12-inch LPs, and two CDs. Our full-sized booklet corrects the inaccuracies rampant in every discography of the band's work, and includes a loving essay by musician and music historian Loren Schoenberg. Rare photos of the band at the Paramount Theatre and the RKO Theater in Boston complete what is, by far, one of Mosaic's finer releases.

Read More About Woody Herman:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates »

“Woody Herman’s bands had it all in the years documented here: hit vocal tunes, top-rated national radio show, star instrumental soloists, new instrumental sounds hailed by jazz critics and fans alike, adventurous arrangements, female singers with sex appeal and a level of musicianship marking them as among the best large ensembles in jazz history.” – George Kanzler, All About Jazz

  • Booklet
  • Audio Quality
  • Photography
  • Sample Session Notes
Loren Schoenberg, author and director of the Jazz Museum of Harlem, is no stranger to big bands. The tenor saxophonist has led his own orchestra for the past twenty years. In this wonderful essay, he delves into the music and times of Woody Herman’s legendary and highly successful first and second herd and includes a fascinating interview that he conducted with Woody in 1984. The 32-page booklet won the 2005 Grammy for Best Liner Notes.

In the age of microsizing, every Mosaic Records Box Set booklet is still 11 x 11 inches to allow our customers to appreciate all the extras we put into printing them (and for easier reading).


The source material here is culled from the original lacquer discs at Sony Archives. All were in great shape and unless you had heard this ground-breaking unit in person, you’d swear you were mesmerized in front of one of the greatest jazz ensembles of all time

Photo Copyright © Protected
Woody Herman
The photos provided for this long awaited set literally transport you to the stage of the Paramount Theater, The Hotel Commodore in NY, Columbia’s recording studios, Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, the RKO Theater in Boston and the Café Rouge of the Hotel Pennsylvania in NY.

(A) In examining the band’s first Columbia session in detail, we will discover how intricately these pieces are structured and why they wear so well . and have attained classic status. They recorded three different types of pieces – a romantic ballad, an out- and- out swinger and a rhythmic ballad.

Laura came from the score David Raksin composed for the film of the same name as a replacement for Ellington’s Sophisticated Lady, director Otto Preminger’s first choice. Ralph Burns’ exquisite setting is equal to the tune’s sophistication. Taking his cue from the song’s unusual structure (it has none of the verbatim AABA repeats endemic of the pop tunes of the day), Burns eschews the formulaic approach most big band arrangers favored, and arriveding at a concept that was more through-composed than the norm. The chromatic introduction presages Laura’s modulatory nature, and sets up the sustained notes of the melody. Herman’s alto sets out the melody accompanied variously by the band’s three choirs (saxophones, trombones and trumpets, in that order). The alternations of unison and voiced phrases, texture and octave placement render placethe melody in striking context. Indeed, the unison tenor sax lines first heard in measures 9-11 (heard more clearly on the alternate due to different microphone placement on the alternate) reappear strategically in the next chorus. Many of these accompanimental these phrases are inversions, elaborations or expansions/contractions of the melody. Burns’ mastery of the jazz orchestra reveals itself in every measure. Sam Marowitz’s lead alto is also given a chance to shine as the sax section fills in throughout. , and then it also surfaces for a few measures before the vocal, giving us two distinct sonorities – this rarely happened in band’s where the leader had a distinctive sound.

Burns admired Eddie Sauter’s writing, and the stark modulation to the vocal is accomplished with Sauterian brevity and directness by eliding the last alto note with the trumpets entrance, shifting the piece onto a different tonal grid. Burns outdoes himself with even more brilliant panoply of sounds and melodies surrounding Herman’s vocal. The trombones play handmaiden for the most part to the saxophones and trumpets – hear the timbre of tightly muted trumpets over the warm sound of the open, mid-register trombones. Burns redeploys the unison tenors reappear to amplify the words “the laugh” and “she gave” – formal subtlety defined. The rhythm section was an integral element in this band, as you will hear very shortly. We hear the first glimmers of this with a handful of eight-note bass phrases, and, like all great composers, Burns always has his eye on the bass line and its relationship to whatever happens to be on top. The piano can be heard in the background. There’s a moment at the beginning of the second half of the vocal chorus on f the alternate when Burns is brought up in the mix briefly when Woody sings “on the train that is passing through”.

Burns uses the instruments like a great poker player plays a hand, making the most of the contrast between the vibraphone obbligato to Harris’s trombone solo. It is difficult to appreciate today how different this band sounded at the time these recordings were made. It was they WAY they did things. Many of the instrumental gestures and phrases came out of the Ellington band, but the Herman band put their emphasis on different aspects of them. It’s hard to imagine Bill Harris’s playing without Lawrence Brown’s, but Harris turned it something equally personal and profound. The Ssame goes for the trumpet section’s wild bravado – vestiges of Rex Stewart and, Cootie Williams lead playing are all there, but transformed into something else again.

This comes to the fore at the top of Apple Honey. This sounds like no other band. They had their own sound, and that’s the first element in a jazz identity. Now we can hear the rhythm section at full tilt. Clearly, Tough is in the driver’s seat. Bauer and Jackson achieve a staccato attack that leaves plenty of room for Toughthe drummer to anchor things on the bottom of the beat. Listen for the times when Jackson plays syncopated figures (here on the second shout chorus) and how they create a tension with Tough’s rock-solid foundation. Clearly obsessed with timbre, Tough introduces a handful of elements, which he alternateappliess with a composer’s sense. First and foremost are the cymbal splashes. They dot the performance throughout and provide almost subliminal formal landmarks. He does this while keeping time with his right hand on the ride cymbal, so he must have made the splashes with his left hand – not easy. Studies of the few moments of Tough that exist on film confirm that he didn’t do things the way most drummers did. Tough favored a Chinese cymbal that created a wash of sound that surrounded but never obscured the ensemble. He used his snare drum sparely, but always to great effect. You can hear it on all three takes as he sets up the cymbal splashes during Harris’ bridge, kicks the last eight of Herman’s solo, and plays along with Pete Candoli’s purposely nonsensical closing bridge. The bass drum was at the heart of Tough’s conception. He played it at all volumes and loved to pace it, Bolero-like, to achieve a great climax. You can hear this clearly in the ultimate shout choruses on Apple Honey. Listen for the subtle gradations in power. At the root is Tough’s (in Artie Shaw’s phrase) great physic intensity. In his early years in Chicago, Tough learned a lot from the New Orleans masters, and never lost a taste for the more eccentric effects they created. – Many of these involved integrating the bass drum into complex accents; the fills at the end of Harris’s bridge on the second alternate hint at this. Then, of course, there are the rag-tag endings Tough favored – quite a difference from the on- the- button finishes that Goodman and Shaw and all the rest demanded.

The piece itself is a hodge-podge of riffs expertly ordered by the band. This is what is known as a head arrangement. Various members initiate a series of riffs over a basic chord sequence (in this case I Got Rhythm) and over the course of time they begin to coalesce. This creates the frame for the soloists, who tailor their efforts to fit cohesively into a unified whole. This is what we encounter with Apple Honey. The fact that the solos on all three takes are relatively “set” is not an indictment of the player’s lack of improvisatory skills, but proof positive of their compositional sense. Where is it written that every solo you ever play has to be done in an I Ching fashion? A true improviser can vary their approach; indeed it would odd if a solo doesn’t begin to take on a particular shape as time goes by.

The first sax riff we hear is a variation on Ben Webster’s famous Cottontail solo, and there are further echoes of Ben in Flip Phillip’s tenor solo, but his best moment of the session is still to come. He is followed by the band’s other major soloist, Bill Harris, who could make a valve-trombone sound like a slide, and visa versa by virtue of technical virtuosity and his wide array of articulations. He did things that had never been before. Trombonists have to factor in the position of the slide when they play, and Harris (along with Jack Teagarden and Jimmy Knepper, for starters) figured out short cuts that let them reach intervals that were next-to-impossible for other trombonists. His solo on the second alternate is chock full of phrases that would never have occurred to most other trombonists. Harris may well have been inspired to reach beyond the norm by the work of Dicky Wells. Attention must be paid to the minimalistic riffs placed behind the solos – a 1-2-3-4 hit behind Phillips and a rolling sax phrase for Harris. They provide just the right propulsion without getting in the way, which is just what a riff is supposed to do.

The session continues with the blues ballad I Wonder. It is even more original than the preceding two pieces. It’s fair to say that nothing like this had ever been heard before. Ellington, Sauter, Carter, Finegan, Jenkins, Strayhorn, Thornhill, Evans and Challis had all devised different approaches to ballads that took them out of the province of being filler in between the swing tunes. Burns came up with an approach that is as audacious as Bill Harris’s trombone style in its sudden juxtapositions of different moods and rhythms. The superb balance attained by the Columbia engineers' permits us to once again focus on Tough’s contributions and all the other subtle details that are all too often lost in the mix. The drummer starts on brushes, padding along throughout the first chorus and tenor solo, emphasizing only a handful of phrases during the bridge with subtle set-ups. Tough, like his peer Sid Catlett, could say more with a perfectly placed quarter note with his brushes than many more bombastic drummers ever did with a whole battery of percussion. He makes a subtle switch to sticks after underlining brass figures during Harris’s bridge, and widens the beat with his sticks and cymbals during the eight. Shadow Wilson had been exploring similar rhythmic corners around this time with the Earl Hines and Count Basie bands. Herman’s closing alto solo finds Tough clicking quietly on his hi-hat stand – a device adapted from his close study of New Orleans masters Zutty Singelton and Baby Dodds, who did similar things on various parts of the trap set.

The saxophone section provides the cushion for the opening and closing choruses, joined at structural joints by the brass. Remember that a piece of musical manuscript paper is blank when a composer sits down – every note of the saxophone accompaniment, which provides such an effective backdrop for the vocal, was selected out of a myriad set of possibilities by Burns, and while this seems like stating the obvious, most people remain blind to the choices a composer/arranger must make and how the choice of one note over another can make all the difference in the world. The baritone saxophone always carried special import in the Ellington band, as it does here – Skippy DeSair has an attractively plangent sound, and has received precious little in the way of critical kudos.

The dramatic set up for Phillips’ solo has its analogues both within and without jazz. In 1939, John Ford went out of his way to give John Wayne’s entrance in Stagecoach emphasis with a rapid closeup. It was a scene that announced the arrival of a new star. And in his first recordings as a regular member of the Ellington Orchestra, made on Valentines Day 1940, Ben Webster was gingerly placed in the at the center of the frame on a handful of ballads. Here Phillips, in his best Webster mode, receives similar attention from Burns, who gives the impression of having suspended the tempo before clearing the orchestral deck for Flip. There are other Ellingtonian allusions peppered throughout, most notably trumpeter Sonny Berman’s elaboration of Cootie Williams’ plunger –muted style. Berman’s penchant for abstraction matched Harris’s, and found a perfect home in this musical world, which, like Ellington’s, afforded room for humor and irony. Harris preaches his half chorus with impeccable rhythm, and gets in one of his trademark melismatic slurs half through the bridge.

Herman was a superb vocalist, best on ballads, when far away from the minstrelesque interpolations he favored on rhythm tunes, such as Amen. The shift in band style is jarring. This is how they sounded in 1942-43 as they were evolving from "The Band That Plays The Blues". Written by Roger Segure, it is as stodgily conventional with its solid blocks of sectional writing and lack of serious counterpoint and harmonic subtlety in the context of the time as the band’s new repertoire was challenging.


Click here to write a review

  Really killer big band jazz from 1945-1946!
Woody Herman was right on the curve and in the groove with these Columbia recordings starting in January of 1945. Laura was a huge movie hit and hit record for Woody and that other progressive music band Leader that year, Jerry Wald. Woody, like Jimmy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong, Jimmie Lunceford, Andy Kirk, Charlie Barnet, etc, had to pull the plug on his Decca contract by the end of 1944. From the end of the AFM strike with Decca, in October 1943 to December of 1944, Woody recorded 24 tunes for Decca but Decca only released 4. So when the Herman Columbia sides started coming out in January 1945 it was like an atom bomb going off! Herman took the world by storm. This 1945-46 band was so successful that the leader had to disband in December of 1946 from sheer exhaustion! The second, reformed, herd which came on the scene in December of 1947 was good but just not great like the first herd of 1945-46. That band was dynomite!! And it is all here. Including all the swinging alternate takes! In the groove, daddy-oo!!
  Enough Already.
Alternate Takes Kill It...And I Dont Mean In A Good Way. Every disc becomes excruciating to listen to. The other 2 star rater got it right. Dont bother.
  Swing Voices
Yes, it's more of a swing band than I thought it would be. Woody usually had good taste in singers - great voices, even when the material wasn't first rate.
Be-bop influenced and some bop/boppish tracks but the bulk is straight swing that really does swing, the timing,energy, and sophistication of the band is impressive.
  The Praise is well deserved
One aspect of this bands work seldom noted and worthy of praise are the arrangements and execution of the throwaway numbers such as "Uncle Remus". Novelty tunes - But what swinging music! Sonny Berman, Flip Phillips, Bill Harris transform many a could be so so selection into a jazz classic For me this was the release of the decade. Now if the final sides cut for Decca, "Crying Sands" etc. could make up the next Woody the bands history will be complete. Frank DuMez
  Love it, but...
This is surely one of the best, and most welcome, sets Mosaic has ever put out. BUT...There is a missing cut, a take of "I Surrender, Dear" by the Woodchoppers that is on the Columbia 3LP box set (OOP, naturally). When things like this occur, Mosaic should make available to purchasers of the box a FREE downloadable WAV or AIFF of the music missing from the not-quite-complete set they've purchased. That would be the kind of customer service I'd expect from Mosaic. You guys are, or should be, the Lexus of the jazz recordings world. Just an idea.
  Worth The Wait
I have been waiting for something like this set since my high school days when I found this wild band on an a easily worn Harmony LP with no liner notes. I really had no idea who everybody was or when the records were made. I wore out the LP in no time so I quickly snatched up the 3 LP "Thundering Herds" Columbia set when it came out. The Mosaic Set is great - sound, notes, the whole thing (including "insipid vocals"). Anybody concerned about vocals hasn't spent much time listening to airchecks of the forties. Vocals were a big part of any band's radio broadcast. (I see Mosaic has begun leaving them out of recent big band releases). I got into an e-mail conversation with Mr. Wenzel a while ago about the remaining hole in Mosaic's Herman discography - the 3rd Herd's MGM and Mars sessions (also a home for the orphaned Columbia 1954 sides). He indicated that the thought had been "kicked around" but that nothing concrete had materialized. (Talk about insipid vocals - the '50's were the worst). Wenzel also indicated that the mid-forties Herman "pre-herds" material was being considered for a project. GO FOR IT! PMS
  This complete boxed showcases The First Herd in it's complete form!
When I broght this momumental boxed-set on Woody Herman's first Thundering Herd in 2005, I was totally thrilled and amazed of the outstanding job that Columbia Records and Mosaic did for this comprehensive box set. Already an international star of the Swing Era and the jazz scene since 1937, Herman again made another great achievement in 1945 when he presented the music world his First Herd after switching to Columbia Records. Containing five spectacular big band sessions, You did another perfect and time-honored job on bringing those classic action-packed big band sessions in complete form in a deluxe 7-CD boxed set. I do hope that Sony Music and Columbia bring the CD boxed set into their ranks, because it is a monumental historic experience that deserve to be listening by more people and various jazz fans if we want to see this boxed set enjoy lifetime distrabution. So thank you very much for giving this historic chapter from the Swing Era a better and 100% comprehensive lease on life. I will always be thrilled and satisfied by this wonderful time-honoured boxed set.
  Great Music *Almost* Perfectly Presented
I fell in love with this music during high school when everybody else was listening to such monuments as the Doobie Brothers, etc. I found "The Thundering Herds" in a Santa Fe record store and memorized every track. That's why I was bugged to find a Woodchoppers track missing from Mosaic's set. There's another take of "I Surrender, Dear" that is included on the old Columbia LP set (Thundering Herds) that's not in the Mosaic set. I'm puzzled by this rather glaring omission. The packaging and presentation are all great, up to Mosaic's usual standards, and I'm glad to have the set, but man.
  missing 1947 recordings
I was disappointed in the fact that all the recordings Woody made as a solo artist from February through September, 1947 for Columbia were not included. Certainly, these tracks with studio bands as a backup are probably less interesting than those by his own groups, but the title "Complete 1945-1947" just seems erroneous if you leave those 20 or so tracks off. These include tunes like "That's My Desire", "Across The Alley From The Alamo", "Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea", and "Cowboy Rhumba", which Woody recorded with Duke Ellington's Orchestra. Otherwise, everything sounds great!
  Finally! A Sensible Re-release of this Great Music
An excellent album and perfect prequel to the out-of-print Mosaic Complete Woody Herman Capitol recordings. The two make essentially a total history of the early Herd's studio recordings. The booklet certainly deserved the Grammy as it is as thorough a discussion of individual jazz pieces as you will find. Some of the complaints from other reviewers show a lack of understanding that these sessions were made for the old 78 rpm records (i.e. one piece on each side), not LP albums. Often they would be paired, with an upbeat piece on one side and a ballad on the other. Perhaps the alternate takes are a bit much and do not vary enough for the average listener. However, with today's CD players, one can choose to program them out. For the real fan, they illustrate the process for the final recording selection. Altogether, a real fine addition to the Mosaic library (and regrets to those who missed out on the Capitol collection). For those who have much of the Columbia set on vinyl, the sound is considerably better.
  Spirit and Precision
Vocals on almost every track? The comment doesn't make any sense and is simply not accurate. By the way, I do like most of the vocals. The band is tremendous - such spirit and precision. This is one of my favorite Mosiac sets.
The Woody Herman Band killed Swing retrospectively by having too many out takes and vocals released fifty years later???? Well this certainly is original jazz history!!! Incidently, this is a great set.
The Woody Herman Band killed Swing retrospectively by having too many out takes and vocals released a half century later???? Well this certainly is original jazz history! Incidentally, this is a great set.
  This may be what killed Swing
I am a very disappointed in this collection. The band is great. The arrangements are great. There are some great solos. The vocals are, for the most part, insipid. It is too bad that a good band recorded such awful smaltz. I grew up in the 30's listening, and dancing, to Goodman, Shaw, Dorsey, James, Herman etc. This collection is not at all representative of those great Swing years and great bands. One of the problems with collections like this is there are many outtakes. That's fine if there great solos to be compared on different takes. And there are some examples of this in this collection. But too listen to those absolutely terribel vocals over and over again (on almost every track) is more than I can take. I have filled this collection away and labelled it "Don't bother!" I'm not sure why my opinion is so different from the other reviewers, but this, in my opinion, is a far cry from great Swing. I would never recommend it to anybody!
  ''Missing'' Woodchoppers track not missing
'Moon Burns' is actually by Sonny Berman's Big Eight and was issued on the Dial label. The liner notes on my Jazztone Society circa-1955 10-inch LP sampler were erroneous.
Finally, the incredible First Herd collected in the ultimate set! The sensation of hearing every detail of "Out of this World" with Jackson's haunting bass lines, Harris & Phillips changing their solos in each take, "new" piano fills, the orchestra's collegial interpretation of Burn's genius (especially in the vocal numbers), Mosaic's remastering and Mr. Shoenberg's outstanding essay and analyses... And lots of credits to Columbia who, 50 years ago, realized that this was pure gold and used the most advanced technology available at the time to preserve it! Meaning that - at this very moment - Dave,Chubby and all the others are right in front of me, more alive than ever... Bertil Aspenberg, Sweden
Finally, the incredible First Herd collected in the ultimate set! The sensation of hearing every detail of "Out of this World" with Jackson's haunting bass lines, Harris & Phillips changing their solos in each take, "new" piano fills, the orchestra's collegial interpretation of Burn's genius (especially in the vocal numbers), Mosaic's remastering and Mr. Shoenberg's outstanding essay and analyses... And lots of credits to Columbia who, 50 years ago, realized that this was pure gold and used the most advanced technology available at the time to preserve it! Meaning that - at this very moment - Dave,Chubby and all the others are right in front of me, more alive than ever... Bertil Aspenberg, Sweden
  Better get this one soon!
If you're a Woody Herman fan, then you've heard many of the most well-known recordings included here; but you probably haven't heard all of these alternate takes, and they are a fantastic addition to the Woody Herman canon. In many cases, the alternate takes are even more interesting and enjoyable than the issued takes. You think four of five takes of Caldonia might be overkill? Think again! Then there are the less-than-key songs that are included here---most for the first time ever on CD. Many of the lesser known selections are even better than the songs that have been re-issued time and again. Finally, the sound restoration deserves recognition. I'm a drummer, and it is a big treat for me to HEAR Dave Tough like I've never heard him before. On earlier issues of this material he was mostly felt, but in this incarnation he is both felt and heard (albeit subtly). It's also really nice to finally hear things like little piano figures behind vocals, and all manner of subtlety throughout the set. For exa
  At least one Woodchoppers track missing
On a 10-inch LP Jazztone Society sampler that I acquired in early 1956, there is a Woodchoppers track titled Moon Burns featuring Berman, Harris, Philips, Chaloff and Burns with, supposedly, Chuck Wayne, Artie Bernstein and Don Lamond (hence minus Herman). I have no idea which label first published that one or even if it was ever released outside of this rare 33-rpm disc. It sure is not present on disc VI of this collection which I received this morning.
  Another winner from Mosaic
2004 has been a stellar year in the main Mosaic series. This is reassuring (as the Mosaic select series contains a few less than indispensable issues). I don't have problems with the earlier very enthusiastic reviews, all with 5-star ratings, of this Woody Herman set. It is a winner. You should consider getting it before it sells out. I'm amazed about the sound quality. These are recordings made in the 1940s, some 60 years ago. The sound is excellent. Of course the music is enjoyable. However, I would like to add a note to Mosaic fans who are not devoted Woody Herman fans but who like me are considering this set on the basis of their earlier great experience with other Mosaic sets. Woody Herman sings a lot on these discs, and there is also a lady vocalist on several tracks. So it is not strictly only great big band music here, lot of vocals too. Loren Schoenberg in the unusually enthusiastic Mosaic booklet notes wonders why some people are wary of vocal tracks. Well, I'm afraid in this case the an
  Best Mosaic package yet
It is difficult to sum up in a few words why this has now become my favourite of all the 25 Mosaic sets I own. I would award 10/10 for sound quality (all but four of the 141 cuts being from original lacquer discs), another 10/10 for the outstanding essay by Loren Schoenberg, the best of its kind I have ever read, and 10/10 for completeness - despite my disappointment that Mosaic couldn't locate the missing "They Went That-away" by Sonny Berman which later became "Sonny Speaks" on Capitol. The First Herd is the one big band, in my opinion, that can be placed alongside the legendary Ellington Blanton-Webster Band for sheer perfection and consistent excellence. Revelations for me included how talented and underappreciated a singer Woody was and what a brilliant, precocious arranger Ralph Burns was - capable of turning the most forgettable pop songs into a miniature works of art. I agree with an earlier reviewer that those few 1950s Columbia titles should find a home somewhere. Also, while
  What's Missing Here
Not "missing" from the set, but missing from the reviews so far. And that's what - for me -- separates Herman's bands from most of the others, including Basie and Ellington, both of whom I also love. It's the Herman bands' sense of fun. These guys are young punk virtuosi, showing off their musicianship with what are in many cases quite witty arrangments, whether by Ralph Burns (in his early 20s) or "heads." They seems to be thoroughly enjoying themselves on the bandstand, and that more than anything is what attracted me to Herman (I bought the Thundering Herds box when it came out). Now for the Phillips and Columbia sides, with charts by Bill Holman and Nat Pierce (among others), and playing by the snazziest bunch of kids to ride a band bus!
  Herman Swings Again!
Former Herman Herd member, John LaPorta would have been proud of this Mosaic set but unfortunately he passed away before its release. This is an excellent Woody Herman collection with a bunch of unreleased cuts. The booklet has several pictures of the band with Mr. LaPorta playing alto and there is even one with Pete Candoli in his Superman suit playing Apple Honey. Thanks Mosiac, Woody and the boys deserve this!!! Jim Stone
  A landmark achievement
That the contents of these seven CD's are of supreme historical importance goes almost without saying: to any fan of jazz or the big band era, they need no introduction -- they are sui generis, creme de la creme, hors concours -- choose your favorite foreign phrase of praise. There was no group of musicians ever assembled quite like this one, and the marvelously powerful and buoyant arrangements that were the vehicles for their talents were unequalled in the era. The shockingly small and confusingly piecemeal group of reissues of the Herman First Herd (and the Columbia recordings of the Second) must now make way for this glorious piece of work by Mosaic Records, which not only meets but exceeds their already industry-setting standards in the areas of discographical work, annotation, packaging, sound, and all-around attention to detail--this is painstakingly assembled, and insofar as I can tell, unfailingly accurate, work. That it has been accorded to a band of such monumental accomplishment and importance
Grab this one before it swings itself right out of print!
  Later Columbia Titles To Consider
A great collection, but could I suggest you include the only songs Woody's Third Herd recorded for Columbia AFTER the 1947 period, lest they become lost forever? They appeared on a 1955 one-disk (vinyl) compilation, "The Three Herds," Col 592, including six first and second herd songs from the label's archive PLUS five songs from the band just returned from a European tour: Bill Holman's Blame Boehm, Mulligan Tawny, which is Pres Conference with a Mulligansque intro, the new title apparently suggested by George Avakian for the date, and The Third Herd, a retitled Cohn's Alley, by, of course, Al Cohn. Add to that a new version of Early Autimn with Bill Perkins, since Columbia didn't have the Getz Capitol masterpiece, and Four Others, a Guiffre follow-up to Four Brothers, this time for trombones. The first three of the above are standout versions, showing the band's incredible drive under drummer Chuck Flores, and the Perkins and Four Others cuts are only slightly less great. As far as I know,

The Complete Woody Herman Columbia (1945-7)(#223)
The Complete Woody Herman Columbia (1945-7)(#223)
Limited Edition: 5000 copies
7 CDs - $119.00

Customer Reviews:

"Finally, the incredible First Herd collected in the ultimate set! The sensation of hearing every detail of "Out of this World" with Jackson's haunting bass lines, Harris & Phillips changing their solos in each take, "new" piano fills, the orchestra's collegial interpretation of Burn's genius (especially in the vocal numbers), Mosaic's remastering and Mr. Shoenberg's outstanding essay and analyses."
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