American Songbook, Vol.1

American Songbook, Vol.1

by Phil Woods Quintet


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American Songbook, Vol.1

Phil Woods, the great American saxophonist, has been featured in more diverse settings than almost anyone in the history of the music. His constant challenging of himself as a player, bandleader, and composer has been admirable since his debut set as a leader. While standards sets these days are not only a dime a dozen but mostly cop-outs from established artists and newcomers who either lost or never had the chops to execute them with any aesthetic imprint, let alone the one they deserve, septuagenarian Woods breathes life into ten of these tunes, and reinvents them both as harmonic structures and as tools for swing. With trumpeter Brian Lynch, pianist Bill Charlap (a fine leader in his own right), bassist Steve Gilmore, and Billy Goodwin on drums, Woods takes on "Foggy Day" as if it were a new tune. The same goes for the age-old jazz ballad of choice "All the Things You Are," on which Charlap sets the course for a wondrous take with the ensemble playing together as if they co-wrote the tune. Lynch's muted trumpet is a natural choice, but Charlap's extrapolation on the chord voicings and Woods playing the middle-low register of his horn and easing out with a sense of phrasing akin to Paul Desmond's. The front-line interplay on "I've Got You Under My Skin," is simply gorgeous, especially when Woods takes his second solo break and Lynch slips back in behind the beat. One can hear the entire history of the alto as a solo instrument in this tune. And if you are about to groan at seeing the nugget "Summertime" in this set, just take a listen to the Latin backbeat that this tune builds on, where blues, son and samba all meet, and Woods' clarinet playing when juxtaposed against Lynch's mute is simply out of this world. One wonders how anyone ever played it differently. The joint closes with "Right as the Rain," a near pastoral tune, except the shimmering horn interplay brings it right down into the blues again. The fills Charlap plays around the front line are simple, elegant, spare, and attention grabbing. This is one for the summer of 2006, and offers a fine view of what Woods and his crew are capable of when faced with the daunting task of reinventing standards.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/20/2006
Label: Kind Of Blue
UPC: 0076119100054
catalogNumber: 10005
Rank: 126586

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