“Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. This edition tells the story of an evening in Washington D.C., starring Woody Herman and Serge Chaloff
In addition to co-leading a quintet with Zoot Sims, this tenor saxophonist may be best known as the man who replaced Herbie Steward as one of the “Four Brothers” in Woody Herman’s Second Herd. Who is he?
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In the March, 1945 Down Beat, under the headline “Herman’s Is Finest Ofay Swing Band,” Frank Stacy wrote this about Woody Herman and his “Herd.”
Woody Herman has the greatest ofay band in the country — bar none! That’s what all the band popularity contests said this year and that’s just the way I feel about it. Out of 1,606 swing fans who named the Herman Herd their favorite dispenser of jive in Down Beat‘s annual contest, undoubtedly some (the bobby soxers) cast their votes that way because they go for the snappy corduroy jackets that Woody sports on the stand. Most fans, however, pick Woody’s crew for its crack over-all musicianship, for its up-to-the-minute presentation of advanced big band orchestrations, for Woody’s superior talents as an instrumentalist, singer, showmanly stick-waver, and, above all, for his grasp of the right band ideas.
In addition to the band’s excellence that Stacy opines on, the band was filled with interesting and humorous personalities — among them the pot head (bassist Chubby Jackson) and the practical joker (trombonist Bill Harris). Check out this story about one of Harris’s best “jokes,” excerpted from […] Continue reading »
In 1967, Macmillan published the first edition of George T. Simon’s The Big Bands, an entertaining and essential account of the era that was hailed at the time by the Los Angeles Times as “the definitive volume in its field.” Simon, whose credits include being an early drummer in Glenn Miller’s band, was editor of dance band publication Metronome from 1939 – 1955, and during the 1960’s wrote regularly as a critic for the The New York Post and The New York Herald-Tribune.
In Part Four of the Second Edition (printed in 1971), Simon visits with several of the iconic big band leaders he profiles in his book, and asks them to express their opinions about rock and roll, the Beatles, and the generation gap. Their responses — now 43 years in the rear-view mirror, and excerpted here from Simon’s book — are worth revisiting. […] Continue reading »
When this bandleader temporarily retired in 1936, key members of his band became the nucleus of the first Woody Herman Orchestra. Who is he?