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Monday, October 4, 2021

Jackpot! - Woody Herman


Wailing Wall

Woody Herman
All tunes recorded on December 1, 1955
Capitol Records T748'


Woody Herman, clarinet and leader, is the young old timer of jazz. A clarinet and sax man, he dates back to the Tom Gerun and Isham Jones bands of the early thirties and his successive Herds have made modern jazz history.

Dick Collins, trumpet, Seattle born, raised in San Francisco, one of the great lead trumpeters in jazz and a veteran of the Charlie Barnet, Stan Kenton, and Billy May bands, is also an arranger of talent

Cy Touff, one of the few bass trumpeters in jazz, had been with Charlie Ventura, the New York City Opera Company and Shorty Sherlock before joining Herman in 1953. Chicago born, he attended Texas A&M and the Chicago Musical College.

Richie Kamuca, tenor sax, is from Philadelphia and has been featured with Stan Kenton and Woody Herman from the past four years.

Norman Pockrandt, piano, is from Chicago by way of Detroit and used to play with Charlie Spivak and Jerry Wald.

Monte Budwig, bass, was born in Nebraska but raised in California and has played with the Red Norvo Trio, the Stan Getz and Chet Baker Quartets and other West Coast groups.

Chuck Flores, drums, is from Souther California, is nicknamed "Wetback," and is a protege and former pupil of Shelly Manne. He worked with Shorty Rogers and Maynard Ferguson prior to joining Woody in 1954 and his pet hate in music – get this – is "long drum solos!"

From the back cover: It's like that with music. Sometimes you try and try and nothing exciting happens. And then another time, you hit the right combination and the results is pure joy– a musical Jackpot!

It was like that with this band. In the autumn of 1955 Woody Herman broke up his big band and took a small, eight-piece group into the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. "I went into it with much misgiving," Woody says, "When you're with a big band, you're used to a lot of horns and when you don't have them, there's a feeling of emptiness. So it was strange at first."

"But after the first three or four weeks, I became completely intrigued with the group. Everything fell into place just right and it was exciting. In fact, it was the first time in years I felt like playing. Because of the small group. I had to play. In a big band it was just spots... eight bars here, eight bars there. But this got me off my rusty dusty. Of course it was also the first time in years I could hear myself and I almost found I could be interested in what I was playing!"

"Seriously, though, the group was terrifically exciting to play with. It had the old time spirit with modern thoughts. We received lots of encouragement in Las Vegas, too. There are thousands of musicians there, you know, and we worked with the graveyard shift. They were all visitor. Even the Lombardos when they were in Las Vegas, were in every night to hear us, en masse. I got a kick out of it, but some of the boys wondered if we were going in the right direction!"

"We originally wanted to record the band just as it was at Las Vegas, but it wasn't possible to work it out and so we cut it in the Capitol Studios in Hollywood. I was a bit worried that we couldn't capture the same great sound in a studio but when we heard the tests, the guys and I were all completely gassed. The sound was just wonderful and it really duplicated the spirit and feel of the group.

From Billboard - August 25, 1956: This is the Herman Octet that worked, Las Vegas in the late 1955. Group has the flavor of the big Herman band, but naturally features more solos by such as Dick Collins, Cy Touff, Richie Kamuca and Woody himself. Good-humored, swinging fare with a modern tone, and with showmanship. Not too much original jazz here, but the sound is commercial. Jocks will like Touff's "Wailing Wall." Eight selections in all.

920 Special 
Bags' Other Groove
Jumping' At The Woodside
The Boot
Wailing Wall
Bass Face

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