Phil Woods & His European Rhythm Machine was a brilliant though short-lived quartet that made a handful of albums between 1968 and 1973, though most of them are long out of print. Happily, this early studio effort, with pianist George Gruntz, bassist Henri Texier, and drummer Daniel Humair, has been reissued in Japan by Toshiba-EMI, all of whom provide first-rate rhythmic support and make the most of their solos. The leader's "And When We Are Young" was written in tribute to Senator Robert Kennedy, who was gunned down by a cowardly assassin in the spring of 1968 in the midst of Kennedy's celebration of his presidential primary victory in California. The piece begins with a mournful dirge before cutting loose with some wailing post-bop.
In 1970, when Inner City Records was just getting off the ground, Phil Woods was in Europe enjoying himself, and collaborating with musicians who were definitely feeling the spell of the Miles Davis groundbreaking jazz fusion epic Bitches Brew. While always a staunch straight-ahead bebop player, Woods decided to mix it up a bit and incorporate elements of funk, rock, and free improvisation, much to the likely chagrin of his listeners. In fact, a vitriolic letter printed on the back cover from an unidentified fan residing in Chicopee Falls, MA, rips Woods for abandoning melody, criticizes his titles, and actually threatens him with physical violence should he ever show up in his town.
This was one of the great touring and recording bands of the 1980s, Harrell and Woods inspiring each other and the rhythm section inquiring and swinging. Woods didn't need to change anything about his own style, but it blossoms anew in counterpoint with Harrell's lyrical fire, and each album is handsomely programmed and delivered … Flash, the final album with Harrell (who has since been replaced by Hal Crook as the front-line horn), has the edge of some outstanding composing by the trumpeter – "Weaver" and "Rado" are particularly sound vehicles – and Crook's extra tones on a few tracks.
Verve 60th Anniversary Rare Albums SHM-CD Reissue Series. Reissue with SHM-CD format. Phil Woods' recordings with his short-lived European Rhythm Machine are among the most adventurous of his career, though few of them have been available in the CD era. This 1969 concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival features the alto saxophonist with pianist George Gruntz, bassist Henri Texier and drummer Daniel Humair in a wide ranging set.
Verve 60th Anniversary Rare Albums SHM-CD Reissue Series. Reissue with SHM-CD format. Hip and groovy work from Phil – very different than both his earlier bop-heavy sides, and his freer European recordings – recorded with some great backings by Johnny Pate, the excellent Chicago soul arranger who also did some great soundtrack work! Pate's come up with some tight short tracks that have a nice groovy late 60s Verve feel – over which Woods solos angularly on alto, working amidst woodwinds by Jerome Richardson and Jerry Dodgion, piano by Herbie Hancock, trumpet by Thad Jones, and some light strings that trickle in and out from time to time.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Comes with liner notes. The meetings of alto saxophonist Phil Woods and Gene Quill, such as this 1956 sextet date for RCA, are always enjoyable. In addition to baritone saxophonist Sol Schlinger, Woods and Quill are joined by pianist Dave McKenna, bassist Buddy Jones, and drummer Shadow Wilson. The focus is on the two altoists, but there is occasionally blowing room for Schlinger and McKenna, too. Gene Orloff's snappy "Sax Fifth Avenue" and Woods' brisk "Four Flights Up" are the highlights of the date, along with several works by Bill Potts. This is a typically solid effort by Phil Woods and Gene Quill.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. Comes with a descripton in Japanese. Dizzy Gillespie meets the Phil Woods Quintet – a group that already has a great trumpeter in the form of Tom Harrell – which makes the album here a double-horn delight! Dizzy's on trumpet throughout, and Harrell plays both trumpet and flugelhorn – and the pair work well with Woods' alto in the front line, sharing back and forth, and creating a lively interplay between the different voices of their instruments. Dizzy is impeccable – as he always is at this point in his career – and rhythms are nice and tight, thanks to piano from Hal Galper, bass from Steve Gilmore, and drums from Bill Goodwin. Titles include a great reading of Galper's Loose Change" – plus "Terrestris", "Love For Sale", "Oon Ga Wa", and "Whasidishean".
Reissue features the latest digital remastering and the high-fidelity SHM-CD format (compatible with standard CD player) and the latest DSD / HR Cutting remastering. Comes with a description. Features the original LP designs. Early work by one of the greatest voices on the alto sax in the 1950s – a player who worked with the deftness of other altoists of his generation, but a depth of soul usually reserved for the tenor! The setting is simple and perfect – as Phil Woods blows at the helm of a quartet that features John Williams on piano, Teddy Kotick on bass, and Nick Stabulas on drums – players who know how to get things moving, but allow plenty of room for the leader to fill space with his solos! Even at this early date, Woods' command of his instrument is amazing – and the record is easily one of the greatest introductions to his work you'll ever find. Titles include "Strollin With Pam", "Be My Love", "Slow Boat To China", "Woodlore", and "Falling In Love All Over Again".
This long-out-of-print CD has finally been reissued and it's a must-have for Phil Woods fans, or for anyone interested in an excellent example of post-Parker be-bop saxophone. The sound quality is excellent, the rhythm section is very competent and Phil is at the top of his game on a nice mix of standards and originals. It's easy to see why he has been the benchmark for jazz alto for decades. His swing and inventiveness are nicely showcased as he eases his way through the list of tunes. If one were to buy one or two CD's that best show Phil Woods' ability to create meaningful jazz, this one would have to be high on the list for consideration. Don't miss it!