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Four Brothers

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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great titles but the sound can be lacking 21 Mar. 2010
By Robert Badgley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Woody Herman,one of the shining lights of the big band era,has the release of 25 cuts from his 1945-47-period band,otherwise known as the First Herd and some from his Second Herd.The name"herd" was a moniker that had been kicking around the offices of "Metronome"(along with Downbeat the best source for music info) for years.It wasn't until around 1944 that the name started getting on going use in the music industry.His first well known band was referred to by many as "the band that played the blues" in the /30s and early /40s.When he switched labels from Decca to Columbia in Feb/45 he hired some of the best musicians he could find and boy what recordings came out of those sessions;and those arrangements! Fast moving and progressive swing with high end trumpets and beautiful harmonic runs,with a solid rhythmic back beat.It was the most successful band Woody ever had.Due to personal problems he disbanded the Herd in early 1947 but came back later in the year to put together another band known as the "Four Brothers" or the Second herd.Again the progressive/aggressive arrangements were on the table and the band blew with wild abandon.
The personnel on these recordings reads like a jazz dictionary but there were folks like Shorty Rogers,Stan Getz,Zoot Sims,Chubby Jackson,Dave Tough,Don Lamond and so many more.It has been said by
jazz critic/writer George Simon that the best vocalist Woody ever had was himself,and I can't agree more.With a sort of cocky growl to his voice Herman injected the right amount of tenor and umphh into his recordings to make them real winners and he is to be heard here on this CD on a number of occasions.These recordings are a kind of barometer of the times,showing how big band jazz was changing and progressing.Herman along with his fellow label mate at Columbia Harry James,would both change their styles along much the same lines.
This CD would rate much higher if it wasn't for the sound.It isn't bad but it isn't the best either.Definitive out of Europe is using records from private collections to get their source material and depending on the record the quality will vary.It must be further noted that they are dealing with Columbia and they,at the time and well into the early /50s, were well known for their "dead" sound on recordings.RCA and Decca had a much fuller overall listening experience.Definitive does their best and they have done a good job with what they have had on hand.But for a much better transfer and sound experience,seek out these recordings direct from Columbia(Sony/BMG now)from anywhere you can.Since Columbia issues have all but dried up in Canada and with few left in the U.S.,this CD issue from Definitive is the next best thing available.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great Band, Great Tunes, but......look for the Mosaic Box! 29 Oct. 2011
By DAVID A. FLETCHER - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Definitive Spain sometimes works wonders with their material, but in other cases--this being one of them--you CAN do better. It's pretty pointless to go into detail regarding the material tune-wise; Apple Honey, Wild Root... all the likely suspects are here. The records are all justly famous, evidence of a superior group of bandsmen under an inspired leader. Herman's clarinet and alto (and vocals--about the best of all the "singing" leaders who were primarily intrumentalists save Louie), Pete Condoli & company wailing with perhaps the loudest of all the big band trumpet sections, Bill "The Preacher" Harris and his instantly recognizable trombone, ground-braking charts from Ralph Burns and Neal Hefti....the list goes on. The problem here is the lack of access to Columbia's original metal parts and/or acetate tests, which--contrary to an earlier reviewer--captured AMAZING sound for their era. Only Capitol came close.

By 1945, the Columbia engineers had mastered their old Manhattan German music-hall-cum-studio, Liederkranz Hall, whose fabled acoustics graced many a famous Columbia title from 1939 through the late 40s--classic Goodman, James, Ellington, Krupa, Thornhill, Sinatra...all got the Liederkranz treatment. Beautiful open sound--high ceilings with a bandstand/stage and adjustable baffles. Their only challenge with the mid-40s Herman Herd was the sheer volume of the brass, warranting some mic adjustments and section placement changes (to this day, it's why big band drummers are up & back vs. the horns--Webb, Krupa & Rich--and their kindred--couldn't be muffled enough; likewise Bunny Berigan's trumpet had to be put about 8 feet back from Victor's solo mic in the 30s) so that wax (later acetate) masters wouldn't overload their grooves. Columbia didn't jump to tape mastering until 1948, when they premiered "HiFi" and the LP. Even with gourmet playback & remastering, Columbia's shellac held back the full range of what the engineers were capturing, so even with the state-of-the-art rumble/hiss/crackle clean-up, you're still not getting the full monty. If you really love Herman--especially the mid-40s Columbias--your top choice is the beautiful multi-disc box of the complete sessions (with alternate takes) available from Mosaic Records, which takes advantage of the licensed studio master discs. They're still the class-act of all the reissue producers. Yes, it's considerably more expensive than the Definitive Spain sampler. But, the results are markedly superior--even when compared to the various CBS/Sony compilations that utilized the same studio masters. Get over the sticker shock if you're really serious about delving into the band's material.

As a side note, I've got my suspicions that Definitive's Stan Kenton box made use of Mosaic's edition of the mid-40s Capitol sides for Kenton, which sadly went out of print a few years prior to the former's issue. Capitol shellac from that era was decidedly noisy, and Mosaic's processing of their masters sounds like what Definitive released. Fair do's if the Mosaic box had been deleted from the catalog by then. But, you miss the wonderful book of liner notes and recording info that Mosaic cobbled together for Kenton--the same treatment accorded to all of their box set treatments, including the Herman set.
By Justengage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
[This 2008 Definitive issue compiles The Best! of Herman's greatest hits from 1945-1947]. The Woody Herman Band was one of the most popular groups in the world in the 1940s. It combined the beautiful sound of the leader on clarinet and vocals with the innumerable talents playing and arranging for it, many of which went on to become big names in Jazz. The title of First Herd is usually given to the celebrated orchestra from the period 1944-46, which included such outstanding musicians as Sonny Berman, Pete Candoli, Flip Phillips, Billy Bauer, Chubby Jackson, Ralph Burns and Dave Tough, among others. However, due to family problems, Herman was forced to disband the First Herd in December 1946. After some months away from music, he formed his Second Herd, which included such stars as Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff and Al Cohn. The recordings of 'Four Brothers' and 'The Goof and I' were among their greatest hits. This CD compiles [25!] of the bands' greatest highlights. [Running time: 78:48]. Definitive!!
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
too much singing 1 Dec. 2008
By Averell Dalton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I did not expect the guy to sing that much. That pretty much ruins it for me.
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