Reeds player Woody Herman (1913), who had formed his orchestra in 1936 and had already
hit the charts with bluesy numbers composed by Joe Bishop, such as
Woodchoppers' Ball (april 1939) and Blue Flame (march 1941),
as well as with Harold Arlen's Blues in the Night (september 1941),
arranged in a traditional manner a` la Duke Ellington or Count Basie,
first showed his interest in the new trends when he hired
Dizzy Gillespie, who composed Down Under (july 1942) for him.
In the following years Herman assembled an impressive set of talents, such as
bassist Chubby Jackson (1942),
drummer Dave Tough (1944),
guitarist Billy Bauer (1944),
trombonist Bill Harris (1944),
pianist Ralph Burns (1944),
trumpeter Neal Hefti (1944),
vibraphonist Kenneth "Red Norvo" Norville (1945),
trumpeter Sonny Berman (1945),
trumpeter Shorty Rogers (1945)
and formed the first Herd.
Burns and Hefti (and later Rogers) were also skilled composers and arrangers,
who provided excellent material to top the energetic rhythm section.
Hits such as
Herman's own novelty Goosey Gander (march 1945),
Burns' Bijou Rhumba A La Jazz (august 1945)
Harris' Your Father's Mustache (september 1945)
Herman's ebullient Apple Honey (february 1945),
Louis Jordan's funny Caldonia (february 1945),
Herman's Blowin' Up A Storm (november 1945)
Burns' sprightly Northwest Passage (march 1945),
Hefti's Good Earth (august 1945),
Hefti's Wild Root (november 1945),
made them the most popular band that was trying to assimilate the new language
Herman's "second herd" of 1947 was characterized by the reed section, the so
called "four brothers" whose style pioneered "cool jazz" before the term
was invented: three tenor saxophones (enfant prodige Stan Getz, Zoot Sims,
Al Cohn) and a baritone saxophone (Serge Chaloff). The reed section became
dominant over the brass and the rhythm section, a fact that lent the Second
Herd its "modern" quality.
Burns was the real genius of the orchestra, as the ambitious multi-part suites
Lady McGowan's Dream (september 1946) and especially the catchy four-movement Summer Sequence (september 1946) proved.
The third part of the latter, Early Autumn, was the ballad that turned Getz into a star.
But this herd had fewer hits:
Jimmy Giuffre's Four Brothers (december 1947),
Al Cohn's The Goof and I (december 1947),
Burns' Keen And Peachy (december 1947).
Herman died in 1987.
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