Om Woody Herman
If you see Woody Herman's toothy grin on a CD cover, do yourself a favor and snatch it up. Herman's big band combination of Swing and Bop sounds just as good today as it did when his various ÃÂHerdsÃÂ originally stampeded in the '40s. Herman played clarinet and saxophone and sang in a charming, bluesy voice. He assembled crackerjack bands that featured the likes of Ben Webster, Red Norvo, Stan Getz and Shorty Rogers. Count Basie took arranger Neil Hefti from Herman and invented his ÃÂAtomic sound.ÃÂ Ray Charles loved Herman's group so much, he used another of Herman's arrangers, Ralph Burns, to launch his own big band. Herman, adored by musicians as a true gentleman, had a tragic end. A crooked business manager was stealing from him, and had not been paying taxes for the entire band over a period of many years. Herman became a slave to the IRS and was forced to tour and play until he died in 1987.