The trumpeter’s composition debuted on saxophonist Coleman Hawkins’ 1944 recording date. It was saxophonist/arranger/musical director Budd Johnson, a big enthusiast of bebop, who instigated the Hawkins session which included among the twelve-man orchestra Dizzy, Oscar Pettiford and Max Roach. Hawkins’ recording of “Woody’n You” was named record of the year by Metronome magazine in 1945, and the session has been collected on a CD called Rainbow Mist.
According to Gary Giddins in Visions of Jazz: The First Century, “The Hawkins date was hailed by some as the first recorded example of modern jazz.” However, Gillespie had recorded “Jersey Bounce” in 1942 on a little known Les Hite date where he introduced his “...after-hours workshop sounds. For the next two years, his activities were obscured by a recording ban instigated by the musicians’ union. By 1944, the Hite recording had been forgotten....” Dizzy would not lead a recording session until January, 1945.
Giddins goes on to say that “the full force of [Gillespie’s] trumpet playing and his mature conception would be revealed in the mid-‘40s in dozens of performances that constitute the most innovative body of trumpet playing since Armstrong.”
In 1946 with the help of composer/arranger Gil Fuller, Dizzy organized his 17-piece big band to record the first bop big band which included among its repertoire “Woody’n You,” now renamed “Algo Bueno.” Dizzy recorded it again in June of that year on his Spotlite radio broadcast, this time featuring Thelonious Monk and Ray Brown.
Early in his career Gillespie had developed a passion for Afro-Cuban music and was instrumental in injecting that influence into bop, which he termed “Cubop.” Once the Cuban conga player/composer Chano Pozo joined Dizzy’s group, the music became more intensely Latin. Says Maggin, “The Latin-tinged ‘Algo Bueno’ (‘Woody’n You’) became more overtly Afro-Cuban as Chano took the lead percussion role....”
The chord changes of “Woody’n You” continue to generate harmonic interest in the tune. In addition to the fine Miles Davis rendition, many jazz greats have recorded the tune, among them Bud Powell, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, Eric Dolphy, Anthony Braxton (on piano), the MJQ, and recently pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, who is also featured on the tune with drummer Ignacio Berroa’s group.
(Martin devotes two pages to a discussion of the song’s style, an analysis of its musical content, and the musicians who have performed the song.)
- Sandra Burlingame
This section suggests definitive or otherwise significant recordings that will help jazz students get acquainted with
“Woody'n You.” These recordings have been selected from the Jazz History and
CD Recommendations sections.
Though the original version of “Woody ‘n’ You” was recorded by Coleman Hawkins in 1944, for many people the definitive version is Dizzy Gillespie’s 1947 big band recording (Complete Rca Victor Recordings 1947-1949), also called “Algo Bueno” and featuring Gil Fuller’s arrangement (including a frequently-played shout chorus toward the end) and the percussion of Chano Pozo. Not surprisingly, the tune became popular among hard boppers, and there are important 1956 recordings by two of the most important hard bop bandleaders. Max Roach presents the song at an assertive but relaxed medium swing tempo (Plus Four) with a band featuring Kenny Dorham and Sonny Rollins, while Miles Davis’ version from the same year (Relaxin’) is fast and aggressive, particularly with John Coltrane’s saxophone solo.
Starting with a minor flavor because of the initial use of half-diminished chords, finally resolving to major
“A” rises a step from the initial pitch then descends a step and a third; this motif is repeated twice before ending with a rising arpeggio that lands on the sixth degree of the scale. “B” is a series of descending and ascending scale patterns.
A “be-bop” head; the chord changes are interesting variations on those found in “I Should Care” (section “A”) and “Satin Doll” (section “B”). “A” is essentially a circle of fifths, but instead of a series of V7-I cadences (as in “I Got Rhythm”), Gillespie uses half diminished chords (minor with a flatted fifth), creating what is really a chain of iiø7 - V7 - I sequences. The harmonic function is basically the same, however.
K. J. McElrath - Musicologist for JazzStandards.com
Jazz History Notes
Composer/trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie’s 1947 version, titled “Algo Bueno” (“Something Good”), by his magnificent big band is propelled by the masterful Cuban conga player Chano Pozo. Although there had been some Latin influence in jazz prior to this time, Gillespie’s work of this period with Pozo made Latin rhythms more common with jazz groups.
Miles Davis’ All-Star recording from 1952 is memorable not only for his trumpet playing but for the fine rhythm support of Oscar Pettiford (bass) and Kenny Clarke (drums). Trombonist J. J. Johnson also deports himself with aplomb.
Yet another recording by Gillespie, this one from 1954, features his mentor, the swing era sparkplug Roy Eldridge. The two made a terrific team, seldom trying to “cut” each other even though Eldridge was known to be a fierce challenger. The pairing is a perfect example of two different schools of jazz meeting on common ground.
Your comments are welcome, including why you like
this tune, any musical challenges it presents, or additional background information.
Jazz musicians, fans, and students of all ages use this website as an educational resource.
As such, off-topic, off-color, unduly negative, and patently promotional comments will be removed.
Once submitted, all comments become property of JazzStandards.com.
By posting, you give JazzStandards.com permission to republish or otherwise distribute your comments in any format or other medium.
JazzStandards.com reserves the right to edit or remove any comments at its sole discretion.
Saxophonist Hawkins, a great supporter of bebop, is responsible for the first recording of “Woody ‘n’ You.” Hawkins’ own solo is very nice, but the high point is a bravura performance on trumpet by the song’s composer, Dizzy Gillespie. Drummer Max Roach and bassist Oscar Pettiford, both important early figures in bebop, also play wonderfully.
Bud Powell Inner Fires
Discovery / Wea
Original Recording 1953
Pianist Bud Powell was the dominant voice on his instrument from the bebop movement, and this powerful live trio recording features him alongside two other dynamos, bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Roy Haynes. All three solo remarkably and the energy crackles throughout.
Max Roach Plus Four
Original Recording 1956
This performance in many ways demonstrates the evolution of the bop sound since drummer Roach played on the song’s original recording twelve years earlier. The swinging groove is relaxed but assertive and there are great, flowing solos by Kenny Dorham on trumpet, Sonny Rollins on saxophone and Ray Bryant on piano, before giving way to Roach, who plays a commanding solo of his own.
Miles Davis and his classic 1950s quintet utterly burn on this version of “Woody ‘n’ You.” John Coltrane’s shreds the chord changes on his solo and the rhythm section of Red Garland, Paul Chambers and “Phillly” Joe Jones keep the excitement at a very high level.
Rollins mainly plays the song’s counter-melody on the A-sections, before launching into an exploratory solo accompanied only by bassist Wilbur Ware (who takes a nice solo of his own) and drummer Elvin Jones. He also throws in several quotes, including an extended reference to “You Are Too Beautiful.”
Stripling channels his inner Diz on this blistering set that begins with a dramatic fanfare and is punctuated throughout with short, sharp trumpet licks. Pianist Bill Charlap propels the song with Latin infusion.