Producer Graham Carter deserves high praise for pairing alto sax legend Phil Woods with trumpeter/ flügelhornist Carl Saunders in a CD tribute to Henry Mancini. The two veterans gelled quickly with the rhythm section (pianist Jeff Jenkins, bassist Ken Walker, and drummer Paul Romaine), though Woods had never worked with any of them, and Saunders only with Romaine. A variety of arrangers scored the music for this session. "The Pink Panther" was the inevitable opener, though Woods and Saunders put their own stamp on this slinky, swinging masterpiece. Likewise, the gorgeous "Dreamsville" has been a favorite of jazz musicians, and this interpretation features some of the lushest solos by the two leaders on the date. The extended rendition of "Two for the Road" has several magical exchanges between Woods and Saunders (here on flügelhorn). But most of the tunes aren't as well known. The breezy "Lightly" is given a Latin flavor, while "Walkin' Bass" is a blues featuring Ken Walker's tasty bassline underneath Woods and Saunders (on muted trumpet). Their jaunty take of "Goofin' at the Coffee House," like "Lightly," is another hidden gem originally written for the Peter Gunn television series. This rewarding salute to what would have been Henry Mancini's 80th birthday should be considered essential.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden