But paying a band full of stars wasn't cheap, and Herman was not in a position to turn down any sources of revenue that became available. So in 1945 or 1946, he endorsed the Sweetwind, a cheap plastic instrument
To promote the instrument, the Pioneer Musicial Instrument Company of Chicago, the manufacturers of the Sweetwind, issued two promotional records. The recordings were made in Chicago sometime in 1946, possibly in May, when the Herd (as the band was known) was in residence in that city. Herman was under contract to Columbia at the time, and I suspect that the records were made in Columbia's Chicago studios, or at least pressed by them; the distinctive script typeface of the matrix numbers stamped into the dead wax matches that of other Columbia records of the time.
The records are credited to Woody Herman and his Wood Choppers, but Herman is nowhere to be found on these four sides. The demonstration of the Sweetwind's capabilities is left in the hands of Flip Phillips; he is credited on the labels as playing "Sweetwind & tenor sax," but there is no saxophone on the records - just
The records reveal the Sweetwind to be what it was: a toy. Phillips couldn't have been enamored of the instrument's impoverished sound. And the instrument was apparently difficult to play in tune, as are most such plastic flutes. But Flip does a decent job, considering the limitations of the instrument. And the two records provide a rare and fascinating glimpse of the Herman band's activities at the time, and of course, give us four more recorded examples of one of jazz's great rhythm sections.
Sweet Wind Stomp
Mighty Like a Rose