Woody Herman: Bijou
The Thundering Herds, 1945-1947 (Columbia Jazz Masterpieces CK 44108)
Composed by Ralph Burns.
Recorded: New York, August 20, 1945
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Recorded by Woody Herman's all-white Herd two years before Dizzy Gillespie introduced Afro-Cuban jazz, "Bijou" (subtitled "rhumba à la jazz") might be called Ofay-Cuban jazz. The leader leads off with a Johnny Hodges-style alto solo, but thereafter "Bijou" becomes the property of powerhouse trombonist Bill Harris, by turns pretty, burry and blasting. A neglected master of 1940s jazz, Harris must be heard to be believed.
Caveat: Columbia/Legacy's self-styled "Ultimate Woody Herman Anthology," Blowin' Up a Storm! (2001), presented two alternate takes of "Bijou" but identified only one as such and omitted the superior master take (mxCO.35106-1), thus nullifying the "ultimate" claim. Consider the track on The Thundering Herds, 1945-1947 definitive.
Reviewer: Alan Kurtz