Woody Herman: Woodchopper's Ball


Woodchopper's Ball


Woody Herman (clarinet)


The Best of the Decca Years (Decca MCAD-25195)

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Woody Herman (clarinet),

Clarence Willard, Steady Nelson, Mac MacQuordale (trumpet); Neal Reid (trombone), Joe Bishop (French horn), Joe Denton, Ray Hopfner (alto sax), Saxie Mansfield, Pete Johns (tenor saxes), Tommy Linehan (piano), Hy White (guitar), Walter Yoder (bass), Frank Carlson (drums)


Composed by Joe Bishop & Woody Herman. Arranged by Joe Bishop


Recorded: New York, April 12, 1939


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Thanks to his first two Herds (1945-'48), Woody Herman's place in jazz history rests secure. His biggest hit, however, was the simple prewar blues riff "Woodchopper's Ball." As clarinetist, Woody wasn't in the same league as his rivals Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. But Herman's bands had more bounce, buoyancy and brashness than his competitors combined. Here, Woody solos first, followed by trombonist Reid; then two fabulously Runyonesque characters named Saxie Mansfield and Steady Nelson hold sway. "Woodchopper's Ball" gives no hint of the phenomenal Herds on Woody's horizon, but it's a surefire toe-tapper and heartily representative of big-band swing.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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