Woody Herman

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40th Anniversary Carnegie Hall Concert

This all-star reunion in front of a noisy and very appreciative audience has a fantastic atmosphere. Woody has some ‘marvellous cats here’ and he’d like them to ‘blow right at you’, as he announces at the beginning of this marathon set of glitzy and glamorous big-band jazz. There is a nice remake of the old Herman hit ‘Bijou’, a memorable vocal by Mary Ann McCall on ‘Wrap your troubles in dreams’, a credible version of Freddie Hubbard’s ‘Crisis’, and a blues vehicle for Stan Getz to let loose on. The undisputable highlight, however, is ‘Four Brothers’; this isn’t the famous version, but it is the best version by a mile. I love every note of every solo, every feature of the arrangement, and even the whoops and cheers from the crowd are just right. I also love Woody’s hip impresario voice-over at the start: ‘here’s the man that wrote it, Jimmy Guiffre … there’s Al Cohn, I’d know him anywhere …. Zoot Sims, my man!’ All three live up to the hype by playing ingenious and perfectly sculpted solos that swing so hard they knock you out; Sims’ is the least ingenious but swings the most especially hard. They all certainly do ‘blow right at you’.