William Clarence Eckstine was an American jazz and pop singer, a bandleader of the swing era. He was noted for his rich, resonant operatic bass-baritone voice. Eckstine's recording of "I Apologize" was awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999; the New York Times described him as an "influential band leader" whose "suave bass-baritone" and "full-throated, sugary approach to popular songs inspired singers like Joe Williams, Arthur Prysock and Lou Rawls." Eckstine's paternal grandparents were William F. Eckstein and Nannie Eckstein, a mixed-race, married couple who lived in Washington, D. C.. William F. was born in Nannie in Virginia. His parents were William Eckstein, a chauffeur, Charlotte Eckstein, a seamstress of note. Eckstine was born in Pennsylvania. Billy's sister, was a well-respected Spanish teacher at Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, he attended Peabody High School before moving to Washington, DC. He attended Armstrong High School, St. Paul Normal and Industrial School, Howard University.
He left Howard in 1933, after winning first place in an amateur talent contest. Heading to Chicago, Eckstine joined Earl Hines' Grand Terrace Orchestra in 1939, staying with the band as vocalist and trumpeter until 1943. By that time, Eckstine had begun to make a name for himself through the Hines band's juke-box hits such as "Stormy Monday Blues", his own "Jelly Jelly." In 1944, Eckstine formed his own big band and it became the finishing school for adventurous young musicians who would shape the future of jazz. Included in this group were Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Charlie Parker, Fats Navarro, as well as vocalist Sarah Vaughan. Tadd Dameron, Gil Fuller and Jerry Valentine were among the band's arrangers; the Billy Eckstine Orchestra is considered to be the first bop big-band, had Top Ten chart entries that included "A Cottage for Sale" and "Prisoner of Love". Both were awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. Dizzy Gillespie, in reflecting on the band in his 1979 autobiography To Be or Not to Bop, gives this perspective: "There was no band that sounded like Billy Eckstine's.
Our attack was strong, we were playing bebop, the modern style. No other band like this one existed in the world." Eckstine became a solo performer with records featuring lush sophisticated orchestrations. Before folding his band, Eckstine had recorded solo to support it, scoring two million-sellers in 1945 with "Cottage for Sale" and a revival of "Prisoner of Love". Far more successful than his band recordings, these prefigured Eckstine's future career. Eckstine would go on to record over a dozen hits during the late 1940s, he signed with the newly established MGM Records, had immediate hits with revivals of "Everything I Have Is Yours", Rodgers and Hart's "Blue Moon", Juan Tizol's "Caravan". Eckstine had further success in 1950 with Victor Young's theme song to "My Foolish Heart," and the next year with a revival of the 1931 Bing Crosby hit, "I Apologize", his 1950 appearance at the Paramount Theatre in New York City drew a larger audience than Frank Sinatra at his Paramount performance. Eckstine was the subject of a three-page profile in the 25 April 1950 issue of LIFE magazine, in which the photographer Martha Holmes accompanied Eckstine and his entourage during a week in New York City.
One photograph taken by Holmes and published in LIFE showed Eckstine with a group of white female admirers, one of whom had her hand on his shoulder and her head on his chest while she laughed. Eckstine's biographer Cary Ginell, wrote of the image that Holmes "...captured a moment of shared exuberance and affection, unblemished by racial tension." Holmes would describe the photograph as the favorite of the many she had taken in her career as it "...told just what the world should be like". The photograph was considered so controversial that an editor at LIFE sought personal approval from Henry Luce, the magazine's publisher, who said it should be published; the publication of the image caused letters of protest to be written to the magazine, singer Harry Belafonte subsequently said of the publication that "When that photo hit, in this national publication, it was if a barrier had been broken". The controversy that resulted from the photograph had a seminal effect on the trajectory of Eckstine's career.
Tony Bennett would recall that "It changed everything... Before that, he had a tremendous following...and it just offended the white community", a sentiment shared by pianist Billy Taylor who said that the "coverage and that picture just slammed the door shut for him". Among Eckstine's recordings of the 1950s was a 1957 duet with Sarah Vaughan, "Passing Strangers", a minor hit in 1957, but an initial No. 22 success in the UK Singles Chart. The 1960 Las Vegas live album, No Cover, No Minimum, featured Eckstine taking a few trumpet solos and showcased his nightclub act, he recorded albums for Mercury and Roulette in the early 1960s, appeared on Motown albums during the mid to late 1960s. After recording sparingly during the 1970s for Al Bell's Stax/Enterprise imprint, the international touring Eckstine made his last recording, the Grammy-nominated Billy Eckstine Sings with Benny Carter in 1986. Eckstine made numerous appearances on television variety shows, including on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Nat King Cole Show, The Tonight Show with Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, The Merv Griffin Show, The Art Linkletter Show, The Joey Bishop Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Flip Wilson Show, Playboy After Dark.
He performed as an actor in the TV sitc
Merry Clayton (album)
Merry Clayton is the third studio album by soul singer Merry Clayton, released in 1971 on the Ode Records label. Merry Clayton – vocals Wilton Felder – bass Paul Humphrey – drums David T. Walker – guitar Billy Preston, Carole King, Clarence McDonald, Jerry Peters, Joe Sample – keyboards Abigail Haness, Jerry Peters, Merry Clayton, Patrice Holloway, James Cleveland – backing vocals Curtis Amy – saxophone Lou Adler – production Jim McCrary – photography Hank Cicalo – engineering Merry Clayton at Discogs
A-side and B-side
The terms A-side and B-side refer to the two sides of 78, 45, 331⁄3 rpm phonograph records, or cassettes, whether singles, extended plays, or long-playing records. The A-side featured the recording that the artist, record producer, or the record company intended to receive the initial promotional effort and receive radio airplay to become a "hit" record; the B-side is a secondary recording that has a history of its own: some artists released B-sides that were considered as strong as the A-side and became hits in their own right. Others took the opposite approach: producer Phil Spector was in the habit of filling B-sides with on-the-spot instrumentals that no one would confuse with the A-side. With this practice, Spector was assured that airplay was focused on the side he wanted to be the hit side. Music recordings have moved away from records onto other formats such as CDs and digital downloads, which do not have "sides", but the terms are still used to describe the type of content, with B-side sometimes standing for "bonus" track.
The first sound recordings at the end of the 19th century were made on cylinder records, which had a single round surface capable of holding two minutes of sound. Early shellac disc records records only had recordings on one side of the disc, with a similar capacity. Double-sided recordings, with one selection on each side, were introduced in Europe by Columbia Records in 1908, by 1910 most record labels had adopted the format in both Europe and the United States. There were no record charts until the 1930s, radio stations did not play recorded music until the 1950s. In this time, A-sides and B-sides existed. In June 1948, Columbia Records introduced the modern 331⁄3 rpm long-playing microgroove vinyl record for commercial sales, its rival RCA Victor, responded the next year with the seven-inch 45 rpm vinylite record, which would replace the 78 for single record releases; the term "single" came into popular use with the advent of vinyl records in the early 1950s. At first, most record labels would randomly assign which song would be an A-side and which would be a B-side.
Under this random system, many artists had so-called "double-sided hits", where both songs on a record made one of the national sales charts, or would be featured on jukeboxes in public places. As time wore on, the convention for assigning songs to sides of the record changed. By the early sixties, the song on the A-side was the song that the record company wanted radio stations to play, as 45 rpm single records dominated the market in terms of cash sales, it was not until 1968, for example, that the total production of albums on a unit basis surpassed that of singles in the United Kingdom. In the late 1960s, stereo versions of pop and rock songs began to appear on 45s; the majority of the 45s were played on AM radio stations, which were not equipped for stereo broadcast at the time, so stereo was not a priority. However, the FM rock stations did not like to play monaural content, so the record companies adopted a protocol for DJ versions with the mono version of the song on one side, stereo version of the same song on the other.
By the early 1970s, double-sided hits had become rare. Album sales had increased, B-sides had become the side of the record where non-album, non-radio-friendly, instrumental versions or inferior recordings were placed. In order to further ensure that radio stations played the side that the record companies had chosen, it was common for the promotional copies of a single to have the "plug side" on both sides of the disc. With the decline of 45 rpm vinyl records, after the introduction of cassette and compact disc singles in the late 1980s, the A-side/B-side differentiation became much less meaningful. At first, cassette singles would have one song on each side of the cassette, matching the arrangement of vinyl records, but cassette maxi-singles, containing more than two songs, became more popular. Cassette singles were phased out beginning in the late 1990s, the A-side/B-side dichotomy became extinct, as the remaining dominant medium, the compact disc, lacked an equivalent physical distinction.
However, the term "B-side" is still used to refer to the "bonus" tracks or "coupling" tracks on a CD single. With the advent of downloading music via the Internet, sales of CD singles and other physical media have declined, the term "B-side" is now less used. Songs that were not part of an artist's collection of albums are made available through the same downloadable catalogs as tracks from their albums, are referred to as "unreleased", "bonus", "non-album", "rare", "outtakes" or "exclusive" tracks, the latter in the case of a song being available from a certain provider of music. B-side songs may be released on the same record as a single to provide extra "value for money". There are several types of material released in this way, including a different version, or, in a concept record, a song that does not fit into the story lin
The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour is an American variety show starring American pop-singer Cher and her husband Sonny Bono. The show ran on CBS in the United States, when it premiered in August 1971; the show was canceled May 1974, due to the couple's divorce, though the duo would reunite in 1976 for the identically formatted The Sonny & Cher Show, which ran until 1977. By 1971, Sonny and Cher had stopped producing hit singles as a duet act. Cher's first feature film, was not a success, the duo decided to sing and tell jokes in nightclubs across the country. CBS head of programming Fred Silverman offered them their own show; the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was supposed to be a summer replacement series, but high ratings gave Silverman sufficient reason to bring it back that year, with a permanent spot on the schedule. The show was taped at CBS Television City in Hollywood; the show was a Top 20 hit in the ratings for its entire run. Each episode would open with the show's theme song, which would segue into the first few notes of "The Beat Goes On".
Every episode, Sonny would exchange banter with Cher, allowing Cher to put down Sonny in a comic manner. Comedy skits would follow. At the end of each episode and Cher would sing their hit "I Got You Babe" to the audience, sometimes with daughter Chastity Bono in tow. There were many regular cast members; some notables include Teri Garr, Murray Langston, Steve Martin. Regulars included: Peter Cullen Freeman King Murray Langston Clark Carr Tom Solari Ted Zeigler Steve Martin Billy Van Bob Einstein Teri Garr Among the many guests who appeared on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour were Carol Burnett, George Burns, Glen Campbell, Tony Curtis, Bobby Darin, Phyllis Diller, Farrah Fawcett, Merv Griffin, The Jackson 5, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ronald Reagan, Burt Reynolds, The Righteous Brothers, Dinah Shore, Sally Struthers, The Supremes, Chuck Berry, Dick Clark; the show was scheduled to return for a fourth season in October 1974. However and Cher separated that fall, resulting in the cancellation of the show. In 2004, selected episodes from The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour were released in a three-disc set on Region 1 DVD.
The Vamp Sketch: A sequence featuring at least three mini-skits with Cher playing notorious women in history, each one preceded by Cher in a parlor setting lying atop an old-style upright piano with Sonny pretending to play, singing one verse of the song between each mini-skit, followed by the chorus, "She was a scamp, a camp and a bit of tramp, she was a V-A-M-P, vamp". It ended with all the characters from each skit all converging to sing the final chorus together. In seasons, the Vamp sketch was replaced with "Shady Miss Lady Luck", a similar group of mini-sketches which were bracketed by Cher in a Las Vegas-style setting. Sonny's Pizza: Sonny as the proprietor of a pizza restaurant whose food, according to everyone except Sonny himself, is not fit to be eaten. Mr. & Ms.: Gender-bending sketch with Cher as the bread winner in the household, working as a business executive and wearing a three-piece suit. She would come home to Sonny, a beleaguered house-husband who complained about how bad his day had been.
The Fortune Teller: Cher inside a fortune-telling vending machine. When Sonny would insert a quarter to hear his fortune, she would give bad news or insults, but anyone else a given week's guest star, would get a good fortune that would immediately come true. At the Laundrette: Laundromat sketch with Cher as Laverne, a housewife with tacky fashion sense cracking jokes to straight-woman Olivia, played by Garr. In 1974, Sonny and Cher agreed to end the show, their timeslot was given to Tony Dawn the next fall. They both starred in separate variety shows over the next two years. Sonny Bono's 1974 variety series, The Sonny Comedy Revue, led off the ABC Sunday night lineup, but lasted just 13 episodes. While it retained the creative team behind The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, Bono's solo effort was a victim of the show's weak time slot and the established hits it faced on NBC and CBS. People assumed that his show would be the greater success when it was heard that Cher was to appear in her own show on CBS.
Starting in early 1975, Cher returned to network television with her solo variety show, entitled Cher, which aired on CBS. It was renewed for the 1975-76 season. However, during the second season Cher herself decided to end the show to work with Sonny again. Although Sonny's show had most of the cast and crew from the comedy hour and was expected to be the bigger hit, Cher's show became the greater success, both in the ratings and by fan response. Due to contracts, Cher was unable to perform many of her sketches and characters from the comedy hour on her show. Among the many guests who appeared on the Cher show were Bette Midler, Elton John, Pat Boone, David Bowie, Ray Charles, Steve Martin, The Jackson 5, Ike & Tina Turner, Wayne Newton, Linda Ronstadt, Flip Wilson, Lily Tom
Vikki Carr is an American vocalist who has had a singing career for more than four decades. From El Paso, born to parents of Mexican ancestry, she has performed in a variety of musical genres, including pop and country, while her greatest success has come from singing in Spanish, she established the Vikki Carr Scholarship Foundation in 1971. Cardona was born in Texas, she graduated from Rosemead High School in 1958 in a class that included famed fashion designer Bob Mackie. After taking the stage name "Vikki Carr" she signed with Liberty Records in 1962, her first single to achieve success was "He's a Rebel", which in 1962 reached No. 3 in Australia and No. 115 in the United States. Producer Phil Spector heard Carr cutting the song in the studio and recorded a cover version billed to the Crystals that reached No. 1 in the United States. In 1966, Carr toured South Vietnam with actor/comedian Danny Kaye to entertain American troops; the following year her album was nominated for three Grammy Awards.
The title track reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States in 1967, sold more than 1 million copies and received a gold disc. Carr had two other songs make the US Top 40: 1968's "The Lesson" and 1969's "With Pen in Hand". Around this time, Dean Martin called her "the best girl singer in the business". Carr had 10 singles that made the US pop 13 albums that made the US pop-album charts. In 1968, Carr taped six specials for London Weekend TV, she appeared on various television programs, such as ABC's The Bing Crosby Show in the 1964–1965 season. In 1970, she was named "Woman of the Year" by the Los Angeles Times, she guest-hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1973. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1981. Carr achieved the rare feat of singing for five presidents during her career: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton. In the 1980s and 1990s, Carr had enormous success in the Latin music world, winning Grammy Awards for Best Mexican-American Performance in 1986 for her album Simplemente Mujer, Best Latin Pop Album in 1992 for Cosas del Amor and Best Mexican-American Performance in 1995 for Recuerdo a Javier Solís.
She received Grammy nominations for the discs Brindo a La Vida, Al Bolero, A Ti and Emociones. Her numerous Spanish-language hit singles include "Total", "Discúlpame", "Déjame", "Hay Otro en Tu Lugar", "Esos Hombres", "Mala Suerte" and "Cosas del Amor". "Cosas del Amor" spent more than two months at No. 1 on the US Latin charts in 1991, her biggest Spanish-language US hit. Her Spanish-language albums have been certified gold and platinum in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Ecuador, she voiced Georgette in the Latin American dub of Disney's Oliver & Company. In 1999, Carr taped a PBS TV special, Vikki Carr: Memories, Memorias, in which she performed popular bilingual tunes from the 1940s and 1950s, her guests were Arturo Sandoval and Jack Jones. In 2001, she released The Vikki Carr Christmas Album. Carr appeared to great acclaim in a 2002 Los Angeles production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Follies, which featured Hal Linden, Patty Duke and Harry Groener. In 2006, Carr made a cameo appearance in a straight-to-video thriller called Puerto Vallarta Squeeze.
Carr hosted a PBS TV special in 2008, Fiesta Mexicana, which celebrated the music and dance of Mexico. That year she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Recording Academy. Carr marked the occasion with an appearance on the Latin Grammy telecast in which she performed "Cosas del Amor" with Olga Tañón and Jenni Rivera. In 2014, Vikki was invited by producer Gerry Gallagher to record with Latin rock legends El Chicano, Alphonse Mouzon, Brian Auger, Alex Ligertwood, Salvador Santana, Ray Parker Jr. Lenny Castro, Siedah Garrett, Walfredo Reyes Jr. Pete Escovedo, Peter Michael Escovedo, Jessy J, Marcos J. Reyes and David Paich, is featured on a remake of the Latin classic "Sabor A Mi" from a 2019 Gallagher studio album. Carr married Michael Nilsson, a paint company executive, on August 20, 1979. Carr devotes time to charities including the United Way, the American Lung Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and St. Jude's Hospital. For 22 years she hosted benefit concerts to support Holy Cross of San Antonio Middle and High School in San Antonio, Texas.
In 1971, she established the Vikki Carr Scholarship Foundation dedicated to offering college scholarships to Hispanic students in California and Texas. The foundation has awarded more than 280 scholarships totaling more than $250,000. Years represent year of release, not the chart peak year. In the "Family Guy" episode Total Recall, Peter is envious of his wife Lois, after she becomes popular among his friends. After she comments "one of them drives a Volvo" referring to "trapeze people", a joke which makes no sense, everyone but Peter laughs, he remarks, "So what? She can name a kind of car. Big whoop, I can do that, too. Vikki. Vikki Carr". At a November 12, 1974 state dinner, Don Penny was dancing with Betty Ford while President Gerald Ford was dancing with Vikki Carr. Carr ask the president “what’s your favorite Mexican dish” to which he said, “you are.” Betty Ford was not amused. In the movie Moonstruck, Rose says "Now he's going to play that damn Vikki Carr record and when he comes to bed he won't touch me."
In the season 2 episode 24 of "The Nanny," several nannies celebrate the retirement of, played by Tyne Daly. Bemoaning how little she received after devoting her life to raising the children of other people, Mona says "you give somebody's kids the best years of your life and what do you get
Foxy Lady (Cher album)
Foxy Lady is the eighth studio album by American singer-actress Cher, released in July 1972 by Kapp Records. Following the commercial success of the previous album Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves, Cher again collaborated with Snuff Garrett, Al Capp and her then-husband Sonny Bono. Foxy Lady was the second and last record for Kapp; the album was promoted on Cher's successful The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour show. After its release, it was well received by critics, but unlike her previous effort Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves, had only moderate chart and sales success; when it was released, Foxy Lady was on the charts with two other Cher-related albums: Cher's Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves and Sonny & Cher's comeback album All I Ever Need Is You. This period was successful for Cher, in which she established herself as a solo recording artist and as a TV personality on. During this period Snuff Garrett helped with Cher's records. Foxy Lady was produced by Garrett; these collaborations were so stress filled that Garrett resigned as producer after the album was finished.
Bono went on to produce Cher's next album Bittersweet White Light, which would be a commercial flop. Garrett was approached to return to record Half-Breed; the opening track of the album is "Living in a House Divided", a song about divorce, but the album as a whole wasn't able to compete with Cher's other early 1970s solo records. The album contains two covers, "A Song for You" and Hoyt Axton's "Never Been to Spain". On this album, Cher again collaborated with Bob Stone, who had written the song "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves". Two songs from the album were later covered by American singer Maureen McGovern for her 1973 debut album The Morning After. In 1976, when Cher was busy with the Cher TV show, a line of dolls was released by Mego Corporation. One outfit was dedicated to the album; the Foxy Lady outfit is in a pink metallic with an overlaid black lace. This outfit includes a black cape. In 1993, Foxy Lady and Cher's 1971 album Cher were reissued onto one CD called Cher/Foxy Lady, which features all tracks from both albums.
The original Foxy Lady album in its entirety remains unreleased on compact disc. Foxy Lady received positive reviews from music critics. Joe Viglione of AllMusic said of the songs that "the other titles here display Cher's rich expression and the superb production work of Sonny Bono and Snuff Garrett.", called Foxy Lady "an impressive collection of ten songs which holds up years with more staying power than when it was first released." Rolling Stone praised the album saying that it "is dynamite work and will take her right up the charts once again" and described it as "a sure and speedy chart-topper for the "Foxy Lady"." Despite good sales of the first single, "Living in a House Divided", the album wasn't appreciated by the public, unlike its predecessor, the record had limited success. The war between Garrett and Bono may have damaged the sales of the record. Foxy Lady debuted on the Billboard 200 at number one hundred twenty at the end of July, after two weeks came in at #57; the highest position reached was at #43.
The album entered the Canadian Albums Chart and debuted at number seventy-five in late August, at a time when Sonny & Cher's album All I Ever Need Is You was on the chart, reached its highest position in September. The album exited in late November. "Living in a House Divided" was the first single released. It peaked in the US Billboard Hot 100 at #22 and in the Adult Contemporary chart at #2, it peaked in the Canadian Single Chart at #17. Shortly after, a second single was released, "Don't Hide Your Love", that entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #46. Cher - lead vocals Snuff Garrett - record producer Sonny Bono - record producer on "Song for You", "The First Time" and "Don't Hide Your Love".
Woodrow Charles Herman was an American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist and big band leader. Leading various groups called "The Herd", Herman came to prominence in the late 1930s and was active until his death in 1987, his bands played music, cutting edge and experimental for its time. Herman was born Woodrow Charles Thomas Herman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on May 16, 1913, his parents were Myrtle Herman. His mother was Polish, his father had a deep love for show business and this influenced Woody Herman at an early age. As a child he worked as a singer and tap-dancer in Vaudeville started to play the clarinet and saxophone by age 12. In 1931, he met an aspiring actress. Woody Herman joined the Tom Gerun band and his first recorded vocals were "Lonesome Me" and "My Heart's at Ease". Herman performed with the Harry Sosnick orchestra, Gus Arnheim and Isham Jones. Isham Jones wrote many popular songs, including "It Had to Be You" and at some point was tiring of the demands of leading a band. Jones wanted to live off the residuals of his songs.
Woody Herman's first band became known for its orchestrations of the blues, was sometimes billed as "The Band That Plays The Blues". This band recorded for the Decca label, at first serving as a cover band, doing songs by other Decca artists; the first song recorded was "Wintertime Dreams" on November 6, 1936. In January 1937 George T. Simon closed a review of the band with the words: "This Herman outfit bears watching. After two and a half years on the label, the band had its first hit, "Woodchopper's Ball" recorded in 1939. Woody Herman remembered that "Woodchopper's Ball" started out at first. "t was a sleeper. But Decca kept re-releasing it, over a period of three or four years it became a hit, it sold more than five million copies—the biggest hit I had." In January 1942, Herman would have his highest rated single, singing Harold Arlen's "Blues in the Night" backed by his orchestra. Other hits for the band include "Blue Flame" and "Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me". Musicians and arrangers that stood out included Cappy Lewis on trumpet and saxophonist/arranger Deane Kincaide.
"The Golden Wedding", arranged by James "Jiggs" Noble, was notable for its extended drum solo by Frankie Carlson. In jazz, swing was being replaced by bebop. Dizzy Gillespie, a trumpeter and one of the originators of bop, wrote three arrangements for Woody Herman, "Woody'n You", "Swing Shift" and "Down Under"; these were arranged in 1942. "Woody'n You" was not used at the time. "Down Under" was recorded July 24, 1942. The fact that Herman commissioned Gillespie to write arrangements for the band and that Herman hired Ralph Burns as a staff arranger, heralded a change in the style of music the band was playing. In February 1945, the band started a contract with Columbia Records. Herman liked what drew many artists to Columbia, Liederkranz Hall, at the time the best recording venue in New York City; the first side Herman recorded was "Laura", the theme song of the 1944 movie of the same name. Herman's version was so successful that it made Columbia hold from release the arrangement that Harry James had recorded days earlier.
The Columbia contract coincided with a change in the band's repertoire. The 1944 group, which he called the First Herd, was famous for its progressive jazz; the First Herd's music was influenced by Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Its lively, swinging arrangements, combining bop themes with swing rhythm parts, were admired; as of February 1945 the personnel included Bill Harris, Sonny Berman, Pete Candoli, Billy Bauer, Ralph Burns, Davey Tough and Flip Phillips. On February 26, 1945 in New York City, the Woody Herman band recorded "Caldonia". Neal Hefti and Ralph Burns collaborated on the arrangement of "Caldonia". "Ralph caught Louis Jordan in an act and wrote the opening twelve bars and the eight bar tag." "But the most amazing thing on the record was a soaring eight bar passage by trumpets near the end." These eight measures have wrongly been attributed to a Gillespie solo, but were in fact written by Neal Hefti. George T. Simon compares Hefti with Gillespie in a 1944 review for Metronome magazine saying, "Like Dizzy, Hefti has an abundance of good ideas, with which he has aided Ralph Burns immensely".
In 1946 the band won Down Beat, Metronome and Esquire polls for best band, nominated by their peers in the big band business. Along with the high acclaim for their jazz and blues performances, classical composer Igor Stravinsky wrote the Ebony Concerto, one in a series of compositions commissioned by Herman with solo clarinet, for this band. Herman recorded this work in the Belock Recording Studio in Bayside New York. Throughout the history of jazz, there have always been musicians who sought to combine it with classical music. Ebony Concerto is one in a long line of music from the twenties to the present day that seeks to do this. Herman said about the Concerto: " delicate and a sad piece." Stravinsky felt. Saxophonist Flip Philips said, "During the rehearsal there was a passage I had to play there and I was playing it soft, Stravinsky said'Play it, here I am!' and I