Even with 15 other versions of Rimsky's masterpiece of orchestral virtuosity to choose from — some in the top flight — this was recognized from the first as one of the most rewarding, thanks largely to Krebbers's exceptionally sweet, gently appealing and bewitching personification of the story - spinning Scheherazade and to Kondrashin's skill in pacing and shaping movements as a whole, relating the diverse tempos and building up tension and dynamics by careful control so as to create climaxes of thrilling intensity and power. the 'shipwreck' finale, in particular, was overwhelming; and this was achieved without resorting to the ultra - fast tempos adopted by some conductors to whip up excitement. The Concertgebouw's crisp, sonorous and sensitive playing (full marks both to the splendid strings and to the wind soloists) was caught with the utmost fidelity; but the Compact Disc's total exclusion even of minimal extraneous background now marks a still further improvement, as can be judged by the dead silence against which Scheherazade's pleadings are heard. The final coda is ravishingly beautiful.
This CD is quite a bit different than most audiophile releases for it contains rare rather than famous recordings. 1959's The Fourth Herd (which features an all-star group of studio musicians and Woody Herman alumni along with his octet of the time) was only put out briefly by Jazzland while the music on 1962's The New World of Woody Herman was never available commercially before; both were originally cut for the SESAC Transcribed Library and were available only to selected radio stations on a subscription basis…
Since the definitive three-LP box set Thundering Herds is out-of-print, this single CD is the best place for listeners to go first when starting to explore the music of Woody Herman. There are 16 selections from what was arguably his best band, his First Herd, and two numbers (including the original version of "Four Brothers") by The Second Herd…
WOODY HERMAN The Complete Columbia Recordings Of Woody Herman And His Orchestra & Woodchoppers (Extremely rare & limited 2004 US 141-track Mosaic audiophile 7-CD box set, including many alternate and unissued takes, entirely comprehensive of Woody's fabulous output for Columbia. Housed in a beautifully presented textured outer black box with front pasted picture cover, complete with four credit/tracklisting picture booklets plus an informative 32-page LP sized booklet, featuring stunning black & white session photographs and extensive liner notes. Woody Herman’s bands had it all in the years documented here: hit vocal tunes, top-rated national radio show, star instrumental soloists, new instrumental sounds hailed by jazz critics and fans alike, adventurous arrangements, female singers with sex appeal and a level of musicianship marking them as among the best large ensembles in jazz history.
Recorded live at the 1979 Monterey Jazz Festival, Herman and his Young Thundering Herd welcomed trumpeters Woody Shaw and Dizzy Gillespie and trombonist Slide Hampton to the bandstand for "Woody'n You" and "Manteca," and featured guest Stan Getz on a typically beautiful rendition of "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" The other side of the original LP finds the Herd sounding in spirited form on four standards with baritonist Gary Smulyan and tenor saxophonist Frank Tiberi (who doubles on bassoon during "Caravan") taking solo honors.(Scott Yanow - AllMusic Guide)
Herman's final recording, made just weeks before his health began to seriously fail, is actually quite good. With future leader Frank Tiberi contributing some strong tenor solos, John Fedchock writing some colorful arrangements for a varied program (ranging from "Rose Room" and "'Round Midnight" to Chick Corea's "Samba Song"), and three guest percussionists on some of the pieces, this is an enjoyable release. Herman takes short solos on three of the pieces, recorded approximately 50 years after he formed his first successful big band. This serves as a fine closer to a significant career.(Scott Yanow - All Music Guide)
The third and final LP volume in the Woody Herman Presents series finds him leading an all-star band, playing clarinet and taking rare late-period vocals on "I've Got the World on a String" and "Caldonia." Actually, there are almost too many talents to hear from during this set, including tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton, trombonist George Masso, trumpeter/vocalist Jack Sheldon (who does a funny bit on "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat"), Japanese clarinetist Eiji Kitamura, and even whistler Ron McCroby. It all works somehow on this upbeat set of swinging music.(Scott Yanow - AllMusic Guide)