Get Your Boots Laced Papa! Original 1938-1943 Recordings
A major player in the broader, commercial canopy of jazz, during his long career Woody Herman underwent several metamorphoses and, surviving various vicissitudes remained in the vanguard of American popularity as "the best white band of the Big Band Era". In his youth almost universally recognised as an ace clarinettist, during the Swing Era he was admired for his individuality of style and for the innovation, versatility and distinctive timbre of his playing. Latterly, and perhaps more famously still, this noted "talent-spotter" converted Dixieland to Progressive and went on to structure and organise the longest -running, most innovative big-band in jazz history. Between 1937 and 1952, he charted with more than fifty hits.
Woody was born Woodrow Charles Herman in Milwaukee on 13 May, 1913, the son of a shoemaker. Encouraged in music by his family, he also had from the start the advantage of a precocious musical talent which showed itself simultaneously in more than one direction. After early experience as a child-singer and tap-dancer on the vaudeville stages of his native-town and music-hall circuits of the Midwest from the age of eight, he at last came face to face with jazz in his own home town. At twelve he had already mastered the saxophone prior to taking up the clarinet with even greater distinction. Billed The Boy Wonder Of The Clarinet, he quickly evolved a solo routine and at fourteen, while still a high-school student, joined his first band.
Woody studied at the Marquette School of Music in Milwaukee and from his mid-teens onwards played in a variety of locally active commercial society outfits, including Myron Stewarts at the Blue Heaven Club and, in 1930, Tom Geruns at the Schroeder Hotel (in this last his fledgling fellow vocalists included Ginny Simms and saxophonist Tony Martin). Soon in demand himself not only as a clarinettist-saxophonist but also as a vocalist in his own right, from 1931 he toured with Gus Arnheims Los Angeles-based Cocoanut Grove Orchestra in both capacities. Following a spell in Chicago with Harry Sosnik, in 1934 he was appointed saxophonist-vocalist with Isham Joness renowned sweet band and, more significantly, became a member of Isham Jones Juniors, the small jazz group within the band with whom he made his first records, eight sides for Decca, early in 1936. When Jones retired later that same year to his Colorado ranch, the band temporarily folded until resurrected at first as a co-operative by a nucleus of its leading former sidemen with Herman at its helm.
The Jones style was initially still apparent in Hermans first outfit, The Band That Plays The Blues but by 1937, the high summer of Swing, thanks largely to Woodys outstanding skill as an organiser and integrator of talent, the band was playing alternately sweet and hot with equal success. Effectively a swing big-band with a superimposed Dixieland flavour comparable to that of Bob Crosby, it held its own with the competition. During 1937 Herman gave the world a first inkling of his native talent for fronting a band and in December of that year his first hit "I Double Dare You" charted at No.18. In purely discographic terms, however, his first true milestone was reached in 1939 with his trademark hit "At The Woodchoppers Ball". A collaboration by Herman and his flugelhorn-player and arranger Joe Bishop (1907-1976), this provided him with a recognisable signature-tune and (by 1948) his first Golden Disc.
The first Herman band housed two noted jazz small groups within its larger framework: The Four Chips (a quintet comprising Herman, Linehan, White, Yoder and Carlson, heard here on Chips Boogie Woogie, Elise and Yardbird Shuffle) and The Woodchoppers (a septet featuring Herman, Lewis, Reid, Linehan, White, Yoder and Carlson, on South and Fan It). However, while consistently never less than jazz-inspired, Herman kept an eye firmly fixed on other more commercial requirements. With this full-scale pre-1944 (i.e. pre-First Herd) band he steadily carved a reputation with a succession of other jazz-swing titles in the American popular charts, including, in 1940, "Blues On Parade", "Looking For Yesterday" and Get Your Boots Laced, Papa (No.27); in 1941, "Frenesí" and his other theme-tune "Blue Flame"; in 1942, "By-U, By-O" and Amen (No.5) and, during 1943, Four Or Five Times (at No.14) and, both at No.21, I Dood It and a chart re-entry of "At The Woodchoppers Ball" during the musicians strike.
In addition to blues and jazz-orientated items, a staple early-1940s Herman programme also featured a significant cross-section of popular Tin Pan Alley war-effort and film repertoire. Into these categories fall his fine versions of "Rose ODay" and "Someones Rockin My Dreamboat" as well as two hit songs from the 1941 Oscar-winning Abbot & Costello-Andrews Sisters vehicle Buck Privates and, one of his greatest if uncharted successes: the Academy Award-nominated Johnny MercerHarold Arlen title-song from the 1941 Warner melodrama Blues In The Night.
Peter Dempsey, 2003
The Naxos Historical labels aim to make available the greatest recordings of the history of recorded music, in the best and truest sound that contemporary technology can provide. To achieve this aim, Naxos has engaged a number of respected restorers who have the dedication, skill and experience to produce restorations that have set new standards in the field of historical recordings.
As a producer of CD reissues, David Lennicks work in this field grew directly from his own needs as a broadcaster specializing in vintage material and the need to make it listenable while being transmitted through equalizers, compressors and the inherent limitations of A.M. radio. Equally at home in classical, pop, jazz and nostalgia, Lennick describes himself as exercising as much control as possible on the final product, in conjunction with CEDAR noise reduction applied by Graham Newton in Toronto. As both broadcaster and re-issue producer, he relies on his own extensive collection as well as those made available to him by private collectors, the University of Toronto, Syracuse University and others.