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Real Life

Phil Woods

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Album Review

During a major portion of his career, Phil Woods predominately led a quartet or quintet, so the opportunity to work with his Little Big Band gave him a special pleasure, by expanding both the brass and reeds to an octet. His third release to feature the octet includes his working quintet at the time, including trombonist Hal Crook, pianist Jim McNeely, plus his longtime rhythm section, bassist Steve Gilmore and drummer Bill Goodwin. Guests include Woods' former sideman trumpeter/flugelhornist Tom Harrell, alto and baritone saxophonist Nick Brignola, plus alto and tenor saxophonist Nelson Hill. Although the economics of touring with a band this size made it impossible to tour, the musicians dove into the difficult arrangements with plenty of gusto and end up sounding as if they had been playing them in concert for months. McNeely's challenging "Real Life" is especially inspired, while Woods is joined by both Brignola and Hill on alto saxes for a bluesy rendition of "Quill," a tribute to Woods' former partner, Gene Quill. The leader switches to clarinet for the powerful "Waltz for Harry," written in memory of Woods' former guitarist, Harry Leahey; Harrell's warm flugelhorn and McNeely's piano solo are also featured. Harrell's "Sail Away," one of his most important compositions, is arranged by Woods to feature Crook's potent trombone. The program ends with a boisterous rendition of Woods' usual set closer, including snatches of several pieces, among themDizzy Gillespie's famous introduction to "All the Things You Are," a blistering bit of "52nd Street Theme," plus the closing tags of "Salt Peanuts" and "Harlem Nocturne." Sadly, this would be the final recording of this octet, as the death of Nick Brignola in 2002 prevented a reunion of this particular lineup of jazz all-stars.

Biography

Born: 02 November 1931 in Springfield, MA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the true masters of the bop vocabulary, Phil Woods has had his own sound since the mid-'50s and stuck to his musical guns throughout a remarkably productive career. There has never been a doubt that he is one of the top alto saxophonists alive,...
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Real Life, Phil Woods
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