Woody Herman: Come Rain Or Come Shine

Track

Come Rain Or Come Shine

Artist

Woody Herman (alto sax, bandleader)

CD

King Cobra (OJC 1068)

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Musicians:

Woody Herman (alto sax, bandleader),

Tom Porello, Nelson Hatt, Buddy Powers, Dennis Dotson, Bill Byrne (trumpets), Jim Pugh, Dale Kirkland, Vaughn Wiester (trombones), Frank Tiberi, Gary Anderson, Greg Herbert, John Oslawski (reeds), Andy Laverne (electric piano), Ron Paley (electric bass), Jeff Brillinger (drums)

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Composed by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. Arranged by Bill Stapleton

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Recorded: Berkeley, CA, January 7-9, 1975

Woody_herman--king_cobra

Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

If I had to pick a favorite version of “Come Rain Or Come Shine”, it would be the Woody Herman version. Despite the 1970s trademark of electric piano and electric bass, it is a recording that sends chills up my spine every time I hear it. When I think of the song, it is always this version that comes to mind.

It begins innocently enough, sounding like an adaptation of Neal Hefti’s “Li’l Darlin’”. It seems content enough to just focus on the lovely shifting harmonies and to be a cushion for solos by Woody on alto sax and Dennis Dotson on flugelhorn. Yet near the end of the first chorus, we get our first taste of a restlessness growing below. There’s a big crescendo to the days may be cloudy or sunny line with the trumpets going up an octave on we’re in or we’re out of the money. But then Dotson appears and things calm down again. The tempo moves into a light double-time with minimal support from the horns. The block chords and shifting harmonies return with Dotson taking the lead.

Then suddenly, with the crack of a rimshot, the band comes together for a powerful statement of the final 8 bars, as if it were time to stop holding back and show their true feelings. But there’s still a bigger ending to come: a brief saxophone and flugelhorn figure temporarily brings the intensity down for a few seconds, but everything builds up again, climaxing with an impassioned figure based on the song’s main motive. The figure is taken up an octave by the trumpets, and then everything starts to dissipate, as if the sudden display of emotion was too much. Marin Alsop’s jazz string ensemble String Fever has an excellent version of this arrangement in their book, but Woody Herman’s original is an undisputed classic.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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