“A Night to Remember at Carnegie Hall” … by Arnie Koch

On November 1976,  drummer  Danny D’Imperio joined  Woody Herman’s “Thundering Herd” for a 40th Anniversary Concert at Carnegie Hall.  It was in November, 1936 that the fledgling Herman crew, newly- constructed from musicians from the disbanded Isham Jones orchestra, played its first job at the Roseland in Brooklyn.
As the “Alumni Herd” gathered at the rehearsal studio, a jazz columnist  described the scene:
“The scene in that crowded room was one that will live long in the memories of all us who were there. Everyone assured one another how little they had changed while members of the 1976 Thundering Herd sat bemused before trading riffs with the old masters who had played in the orchestra long before these fledglings had been born.  As Chubby Jackson remarked, ‘ If this were an old timers’ ball game, people would be amazed to see a cat get to first base; but we mean business! We’re here for home runs!’ ”

Danny later commented about playing behind Woody’s vocal on “Blues in the Night”.  “Woody was a great blues singer (Tony Bennett was greatly influenced by him) and that chart was fairly new to the new guys ( I was still reading it). Stan Getz was to guest star next with the band.  Pardon my impertinence but – when we went into that last 6/8 bit where Woody hollers the blues,  I went on the swish cymbal and Getz just comes on stage and started staring at me. I didn’t know what to do.  He was apparently moved by the looseness of what I’d done (which was, of course, Elvin Jones motivated).  Buddy Rich was in the audience as was Charlie Mingus. I wish I had that day to relive.”

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