This is the bittersweet life story of a beloved bandleader who rose to fame and fortune, then spent the last 20 years of his life working to pay $1.6 million in back taxes. Written with Troup, jazz critic for New York Newsday , the book is a straightforward account of a successful career gone awry because of bad business judgment and misplaced trust. Long passages in which friends and band members reminisce about Herman add another dimension, for he was a humorous and compassionate man who helped a great number of musicians in their careers. One can understand why, during the tragic final weeks of his life when he was ill and impoverished, many people banded together to save him from being evicted from his home. Herman died in 1987 at age 74. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Working consistently for more than four decades, Herman fronted commercially successful bands whose artistic integrity earned them the respect of the very best jazz musicians of three generations. Many of these players passed through one or another of ``Herman's Herds,'' and their voices are heard in this thoroughly enjoyable telling of Herman's life, interspersed with the voice of Woody himself, his friends, and his managers. Most of the memories are good ones and when they aren't, the facts are presented without undue dramatizing. Woody's considerable trouble with the IRS is treated without bitterness or harsh judgment, and we learn that when his wife developed a problem with pills and alcohol he came off the road for seven months to be with her. Readers will come away from this portrait with a sense of regret that they never had the chance to spend some time with Woody. Highly recommended.-- Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., N.Y.