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Album Review

Phil Woods and Lee Konitz had a great time sharing the stage with a number of Italian musicians over a several-day stretch at the 2003 Umbria Jazz Festival. With the Philology label on-hand to tape the concerts, four volumes were put together, with this edition concentrating on Woods' considerable skill as a composer. The contrast between the two alto saxophonists makes for interesting interplay, meshing Woods' robust melodic approach with Konitz's dryer, more dissonant style, while consistently producing great music. The snappy "Squire's Parlor" is a terrific opener to introduce the band, which includes pianist Andrea Pozza, Massimo Moriconi, and drummer Massimo Manzi. The lush waltz "Petite Chanson" has a bittersweet air, followed by Woods' memorable tribute to the late Benny Carter (another master of great melodies and the alto sax), "My Man Benny." It was only natural to follow it with one of Carter's greatest works, the lush ballad "Summer Serenade," which is beautifully interpreted. This may very well mark the first occasion that Woods has recorded "Johnny Hodges" (another tribute to a legendary alto saxophonist) without also singing the lyrics. "Body and Soul" has been recorded so often, one would think it was in danger of becoming hackneyed, but that is impossible with two masters as experienced as Konitz (who kicks it off into fresh territory with his challenging reworking of the melody) and Woods. Barbara Casini joins them on the final track, in a lovely rendition of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Fotografia." Like all Phil Woods or Lee Konitz CDs released by the small but prolific Philology label, this one is a very worthwhile investment.


Born: 02 November 1931 in Springfield, MA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the true masters of the bop vocabulary, Phil Woods had his own sound beginning in the mid-'50s and stuck to his musical guns throughout a remarkably productive career. There was never a doubt that he was one of the top alto saxophonists in jazz, and he lost neither his enthusiasm nor his creativity through the years. Woods' first alto was left to him by an uncle, and he started playing seriously when he was 12. He gigged and studied locally until 1948, when he moved to New York. Woods studied...
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