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Richie & Phil Plus Richie

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Album Review

A single-disc recording that combines a Cole-Woods live setting, Side by Side, with a compilation of different studio and live dates from four of Cole's Muse LPs, this is mostly a Cole showcase. The combination of the two alto saxophonists live in Denver at the Paramount Theatre, before an excited, responsive audience, is one of the more vibrant saxophone pairings in recent memory. The Cole sessions seem short shrift; the disc is filled with surface-scratching, and it would be better served if Cole's studio sessions were put together for one reissue, and more from the Tokyo and Village Vanguard club dates were tacked onto the Denver LP for another. Still, these sounds can tickle the fancy of any stone-cold bebopper. The altoists really hit stride on the upbeat swingers "Scrapple from the Apple" and the mad, roughshod "Donna Lee." Pianist John Hicks, bassist Walter Booker and drummer Jimmy Cobb do more than their share to match intensity — they encourage it. A bluesy swing on "Eddie's Mood/Side By Side" has the melody repeated twice; piano solos also re-enter halfway through the nearly 13 minutes. Cole is featured without Woods on a warm, cuddle-alert "Polka Dots & Moonbeams," and there's some loose poetry during "Naugahyde Reality," with Cole talking, Woods punctuating in rubato free-form fashion. Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis joins on tenor sax, taking a swaggering solo and making a triple play on "Save Your Love for Me." While Cole and Woods both have their distinctive voices — Cole a little smoother and melodic, Woods exploratory — they find much common ground. The Cole "hits" have two ballads; "Body & Soul" at the Vanguard, which doubles time on the bridge as pianist Bobby Enriquez shines, and ""I Can't Get Started," where an impatient Cole squawks a bit. Eddie Jefferson is in on one cut, a 2½-minute shortie "The Common Touch," a classic from the godfather of vocalese. A concert take from Tokyo on "Lady Bird" burns and burns. There are two inaccuracies: a live cut identified as "Cherokee" has those quotes but is really "Harold's House of Jazz," and the easy blues "Stormy Weather" does not feature the singing of Jefferson as credited. One could only hope that the tandem of Cole and Woods could be revived and documented, and this is a reminder of how well it worked. It's also a flawed project from a production standpoint, given the wealth of material from the Muse vaults 32 had to work with. Still great music, could have been a contender. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: February 29, 1948 in Trenton, NJ

Genre: Jazz

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

Back in the mid-'70s, when bebop was being greatly overshadowed by fusion, Richie Cole showed that not only was bop not old-fashioned, but it could be quite fun. His Alto Madness was essentially the idea that any tune, no matter how unlikely its source, could be turned into exuberant bop. Through the years, he has successfully recorded such songs as "The I Love Lucy Theme," "Holiday for Strings," "Horray for Hollywood," "The White Cliffs of Dover," "Come Fly With Me," "The Star Trek Theme," and even...
Full Bio
Richie & Phil Plus Richie, Richie Cole
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  • $5.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Bop
  • Released: Apr 28, 1998

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