1963 was not a particularly good year for jazz or big bands, but along cameWoody Herman with one killer outfit of a big band , probably one of the mostexciting in jazz history, and produced a series of albums for the Phillips label which are now considered classics of the idiom. "1963" was the first inthe series of these albums and it sent shock waves through the jazz and big band community then and continues to do so today. No band in that period, not Basie, not Ellington, not Kenton, could touch this band on a good night. It'sjustifiably famous brass section boasted the great Bill Chase on lead and solotrumpet, and the exciting Phil Wilson on trombone. The saxes had the incredibleSal Nistico on tenor -- one of the most exciting up-tempo soloists ever. The"Rolls Royce" rhythm section was powered by the great Jake Hanna and the bassist Chuck Andrus. Leading it all with a steady hand was Woody and his right hand man, pianist Nat Pierce (who also contributed many of the band's exciting arrangements).
The highlights are many in this set, not the least of which is the 24 bitdigital remastering, which makes the band really jump out of your audio setup.The brass section is heavily featured, as well it should be. Bill Chase is featured , as well as tenorist Sal Nistico, on the funky opener "Molasses". Theold Ellington standard "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" is given a fresh , swinging new look, with a tasty Paul Fontaine muted trumpet solo. And dig thatshout chourus! Horace Silver's "Sister Sadie" is one of the most impressive tracks. It swings ruthlessly from start to finish, with some incredible call and response tight section work from the band. Sal Nistico delivers a probing,hot solo, and one cannot underestimate the great swinging feel that Jake Hannabrought to this band. Phil Wilson literally made a name for himself with his startling solo on "It's A Lonesome Old Town" , and he solos again along withthe tenorist Gordon Brisker on the humorous final cut, "Camel Walk" , which also features the glorious lead trumpet of the late Bill Chase.
This was one incredibly hot band , and it is hoped that Phillips willfollow through on releasing the other albums in the series.(The complete liverecordings of the band at Basin Street West in 1963 are reportedly being prepared for reissue) Woody's band was very definitely at a peak during thisperiod, and these are important recordings which deserve the proper reissuetreatment. Meanwhile, test "1963" on some of your more impressionable friends.Make no mistake, they have NEVER heard a big band like this one.