Critics universally agree that The Woody Herman Orchestra under the direction Frank Tiberi has lived up to the legend of the great Woody Herman who has been synonymous with energy, spirit and swing for over 60 years!In the past decade, a strong demand for the swinging sound of creative Jazz orchestras in concert has come back in demand around the world. The Woody Herman Orchestra directed by Frank Tiberi has met this demand head on and with a sizzling array of historical, classic arrangements. To please any audience, The Herd continues to delight rapturous audiences the world over and travels with some 100 arrangements. Included in the vast repertoire of the famed orchestra are hits such as Four Brothers, Early Autumn,
Apple Honey, Northwest Passage, Fanfare for the Common Man, After You’ve Gone, The Good Earth, Woodchopper’s Ball, Battle Royal, Perdido, Laura, Pavane, Bijou, Take The A Train, Make Someone Happy and contemporary hits such as Sail Away, Sugarloaf Mountain, Countdown, Giant Steps, Blues For Red, Greasy Sack Blues, Central Park West and many, many others.
Frank Tiberi picked up the reins of the Orchestra when the great Woody Herman became ill during the bands 50th anniversary tour in 1986. Before his passing in 1987 Herman chose Frank to lead the band: “Frank Tiberi is thoroughly familiar with the music and how the band should feel playing it”, Herman said, “The guys have always liked and respected him, so I knew they’d all play their hearts every night.” Humbled to have been selected, Tiberi emphasized that “the leader of this band will always be Woody Herman.”
The “Herd” of today maintains the youthful vitality and versatility that has characterized it in years past, mixing classics from the Herman bands of old with the new charts arranged to suit the band’s exuberant, hard swinging Style. It’s pure entertainment from the first downbeat until the last! Throughout the years, Woody always kept his music current and exciting. Never content with the glories of the past, he was always willing to explore new musical directions.
Woody’s timeless, ever evolving style continues to win not only high critical acclaim and Grammy awards, but also new fans of all ages and from every walk of life.
FRANK TIBERI Leader, The Woody Herman Orchestra
Frank Tiberi began his musical studies on clarinet in 1934 at the age of 8. He started performing professionally at the age of 13, touring with the bands of Bob Chester, Benny Goodman, Urbie Green and Dizzy Gillespie. In between tours he began studies of bassoon with the renowned Sol Schoenbach of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, before settling into the illustrious “Four Brothers” sax section of the Woody Herman Orchestra in 1969.
From 1960-69, prior to joining Woody Herman and after touring with many of the above noted bands, Frank embarked on an intensive study of leading Jazz artists performing live in the clubs of New York and Philadelphia. After first hearing John Coltrane in 1955-56 with the great Miles Davis group, he became seriously devoted to understanding the deceptive tonalities and rhythmical development of Trane’s in-depth improvisations. With an intense thirst for understanding in mind, Frank purchased a mini-reel to reel machine and recorded the group constantly during the period of 1960-65. Frank has thoroughly analyzed and infused the styling of Trane into his own unique and un-copied style. He is an original who has been inspired by the originality of the great John Coltrane. Frank has written several arrangements of John Coltrane’s compositions or interpretations for Big Band, like Giant Steps, Countdown, Body & Soul and several others.
As a saxophonist on the highest level, Frank has been associated with far too many giants in Jazz to list on one page. The same is due of the recording credits to him. A partial discography of recordings which Frank has appeared on includes Giant Steps (Grammy Award Winner 1974), Woody Brand New, The Raven Speaks, Live at Montreux, Children of Lima, 40th Anniversary (Live at Carnegie Hall), The Main Event (with Frank Sinatra), Together Again, Road Father, Chick/Donald – Walter/Woodrow (Chick Corea Suite), Live at Monterey, My Buddy (with Rosemary Clooney), The 50th Anniversary concert, Woody’s Gold Star, Legacy of Woody Herman, and recently Live at Ronnie Scott’s. Frank has also recorded as a leader of small groups, like on Coincidence (with Tom Harrell, Harold Danko, Rufus Reid) and Tiberian Mode, (with Joe Lovano and George Garzone).
Frank has been extremely interested and quite active in music education since his early days with Woody Herman, who said of him, “I thoroughly endorse his ability as a music educator as he has so justifiably performed as a leading clinician in all my Orchestra seminars in the USA and around the globe”. So much did Woody love Frank’s playing that when he became quite ill in 1986, Woody asked him to continue the legacy of his world famous Orchestra, which has been an American Jazz institution since 1936. The Blue Flame of the Woody Herman band still burns brightly in the hands of Frank Tiberi. Presently, Frank is an associate professor of saxophone and Jazz studies at The Berklee School of Music in Boston. He resides in Easton, MA.
The curtain went up for Woodrow Charles Thomas Herman on May 16th, 1913 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Show business waited in the wings, but not for long. Woody had “kind and beautiful” parents, he said, “who would let me do anything that I wanted.”
Thus, the “Road Father” began a career spanning over five decades as leader of his own band or “The Herds” as they were more affectionately known in later years. Woody’s band was recognized as one of the great American big bands which recorded hundreds of albums and classic hits such as “The Woodchopper’s Ball”, “Caldonia”, “Northwest Passage”, “Wild Root”, “Apple Honey”, “Your Father’s Moustache” and many, many others.
During his 50 year-plus career in the business, Woody was loved not only for his hard swinging music but also for his recognition of outstanding talent. Woody employed over 2000 musicians during his lifetime and helped to make many of these musicians famous in their own right as the “Herds” performed continuously around the world for millions of ecstatic fans.
Besides being known as “the boy wonder of the saxophone”, Woody was a wonderful singer and a great showman. Duke Ellington rated Herman as “the one bandleader whose beliefs and music follow the tradition and direction of our people’s music”. Count Basie considered Herman “a marvelous leader … his bands always swing, full of fine soloists. I don’t know how he does it!” Herman himself viewed his accomplishments with characteristic modesty: “All we do is try to create some kind of mood, and hope somebody digs it.”
Before Woody left us on November 27th, 1987 he appointed saxophonist and veteran band member, Frank Tiberi, to continue in his place as leader of the band. The current “Thundering Herd” is still swinging as hard as ever and Frank is keeping Woody’s theme song, “Blue Flame” alive and well.
here are countless stories about Woody’s life and contribution to the music, which could never be fit into this short biography. But rest assured, when you have a chance to hear the music of The Woody Herman Orchestra of today, the same feeling and belief which Woody held his entire life will be heard onstage: “It Don’t Mean a Thing, if it a’int got that Swing”!