Woody Herman: Road Father
Much of Herman’s recorded work is discussed in the text. Here are some of the places that those recordings can be found. It is difficult to know exactly what collections are available at any time, however. Except for the Mosaic sets, many, but by no means all, of the collections listed below are currently available on iTunes.
A good collection of the early “Band That Plays the Blues” is the Decca set Blues on Parade. The great First Herd (with a few selections from the Second) is well represented on the single album on Columbia, Woody Herman – The Thundering Herds, 1945-1947. A two-CD set, Blowin’ Up a Storm! The Columbia Years 1945-1947 is more extensive. For those wanting to get a much more complete view of these excellent bands, Mosaic put out an exhaustive 7-CD set, The Complete Columbia Recordings of Woody Herman and His Orchestra & Woodchoppers (1945-1947), which may be found in some libraries. Mosaic also released a 6-CD set that largely covers the Second Herd, The Complete Capitol Recordings of Woody Herman. A single CD retrospective of that time period is on Capitol, Keeper of the Flame. A British set on Proper, The Woody Herman Story, covers recordings from 1939-1949. Verve re-issued the famous Carnegie Hall performance as Woody Herman (and the Herd) at Carnegie Hall, 1946.
Coverage of the Third and Fourth Herds is much more spotty, and what is available is mostly on “off brand” labels; some of it is poorly documented.
The six albums of the exciting Swingin’ Herd of the early 1960s can be heard on a Mosaic Select set, Woody Herman, with much of the material on a Verve set The Philips Recordings. The Columbia albums from this band (My Kind of Broadway, Woody’s Winners and Woody Live – East and West, for example) occasionally appear in legitimate reissues. Bootleg albums of live performances by this band pop up frequently.
A sampling from the Cadet albums of the late 1960s can be found on Woody Herman and His Thundering Herd, Keep on Keepin’ On: 1968-1970. All of the Fantasy albums of the early 1970s, including Brand New, Giant Steps and Thundering Herd were reissued on Original Jazz Classics. Searching might turn up the 40th Anniversary Concert on used CD (Woody Herman Memorial) or LP.
The late albums on Century (Hindsight released some of this music) and Concord are likewise hit or miss (and are not on iTunes).