Phil Woods

European Tour Live

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In one of the last performances by the Phil Woods Quartet before the departure of pianist Mike Melillo, this 1½-hour-plus concert finds the group at a creative peak. Woods isn't shy about stretching tunes out to explore every possibility with several long tracks; Lars Gullin's "Silhouette," a piece not likely familiar to many jazz fans, is a brilliant melancholy piece, with Woods' alto sax occasionally mimicking an accordion. "Rain Go Away" is a cheerful uptempo original by the leader, while his version of Joe Henderson's "Isotope" features a long introduction by drummer Bill Goodwin that sets the band afire. The only predictable part of the program is the almost obligatory beg-off performance of "Phil's Theme" (aka "How's Your Mama?"); listeners are then rewarded with an encore of Alec Wilder's delightful (but not often heard) "Trouble Is a Man." An enjoyable evening of hard bop by one of its true masters.

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