Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy 99th, Woody Herman!

Woody Herman, born May 16, 1913, is my favourite big band leader, and his wonderful organisation (pace Symphony Sid) of 1944-1946, the orchestra that I listen to the most for kicks. Herman surely had an ability to nurture talent as very few people could. In this recording, made on September 19th, 1946 (parts I-III) and December 27th, 1947 (part IV) he gave carte blanche to his 24-year old Ralph Burns to compose "something symphonic", which he did during the summer of '46, while taking a break from the road at the house of bassman Chubby Jackson's mom.

Originally, this suite had only three movements, but a fourth was added as an afterthought in order to complete four sides for a two-record set. The whole piece deserves attentive listening, but some things I'd pay especial attention are: the arrangement in general (the bit starting on 4:30 with the different sections going in opposite directions), including the written-out parts for the rhythm section, the baritone sax solo at the beginning of movement II, the motive played by the piano during the transition from II to III (6:03), the blues explosion at the end of III (7:56), and the angelical eight bars by Stan Getz that close the whole affair, and which put the 20-year old (!) firmly on his way to stardom.

Personnel (from Mosaic Records): 

"Summer Sequence" (I, II, III)
LA, September 19, 1946

Sonny Berman, Cappy Lewis, Conrad Gozzo, Pete Candoli, Shorty Rogers (tp), Bill Harris, Ralph Pfeffner, Ed Kiefer, Neal Reid (tb), Woody Herman (cl, as, vcl), Sam Marowitz (as), John LaPorta (cl, as), Flip Phillips, Mickey Folus (ts), Sam Rubinwitch (fl, bari), Ralph Burns (p, arr), Chuck Wayne (g), Joe Mondragon (b), Don Lamond (d), Ralph Burns (arr). 

2044-1 Summer Sequence (Pt.1) Col 38365 
2045-1 Summer Sequence (Pt.2)   - 
2046-1 Summer Sequence (Pt.3) Col 38367 

"Summer Sequence" (IV)
Hollywood, December 27, 1947

Stan Fishelson, Bernie Glow, Marky Markowitz, Ernie Royal (tp), Shorty Rogers (tp, arr), Earl Swope, Ollie Wilson (tb), Bob Swift (bass tb), Woody Herman (cl, as, vcl), Sam Marowitz (as), Herbie Steward (as, ts), Stan Getz, Zoot Sims (ts), Serge Chaloff (bari), Ralph Burns (p, arr), Gene Sargent (g), Walt Yoder (b), Don Lamond (d). 

3062-1 Summer Sequence (Pt.4) Col 38367

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