Woody Herman

Woody Herman

Woody Herman was a leading clarinetist, saxophonist, singer, and a very progressive band leader.  Herman came to prominence in the late 1930's. In the early days of his career Woody recorded with bands led by Harry Sosnick, Gus Arnheim and Isham Jones.  When he finally broke off to lead his own band, the band quickly became known for its orchestrations of the blues, sometimes being billed as "The Band That Plays The Blues".

In the mid 1930's Woody Herman and his band recorded for the Decca label.  Believe it or not, they originally served as a cover band, doing songs by other artists under the Decca umbrella. By 1937, they were getting some nice exposure and building a firm reputation.  George T. Simon, who was one of the most influential reviewers and beat writers of the Swing scene wrote:  "This Herman outfit bears watching; not only because it's fun listening to in its present stages, but also because it's bound to reach even greater stages." Nice words from a man so important to the Big Band Era.

In 1939, Woody Herman recorded his first hit, "Woodchopper's Ball".  The song eventually sold more than five million copies and was the biggest hit he ever had.  Other hits soon followed including: "Blues in the Night", "Blue Flame" and "Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me".

By 1942, the musical style of his band was changing and evolving.  Bebop was was taking hold and soon you could hear the influences of Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and Count Basie in his music.  Great examples of this change can be found in songs like "Swing Shift" and "Down Under".

In the mid 40's, he signed with Columbia Records where he recorded more hits including "Laura" and "Caldonia". At this stage he was calling his talented band The First Herd. The First Herd's music with its lively arrangements, bop themes and swinging rhythm parts, soon became greatly admired by both fans and other musicians.

Woody Herman remained musically active until his death in 1987.  A true great of the Big Band Era!

You can hear Woody Herman's music right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

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