Phil Woods is heard in a wide range of settings on A Jazz Life, a CD compilation issued by Philology, the Italian label named after the veteran alto saxophonist. Although it isn't clear if the tapes came from Woods' private collection or from other sources, there are many memorable tracks in this collection of previously unreleased performances. Some of the many highlights include Woods' tight solo feature in "Yesterdays" with Dizzy Gillespie's Big Band during its 1956 tour of South America; the exciting post-bop "Executive Suite" with his European Rhythm Machine; a delicious take of "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" with pianist Ole Kock Hansen and bassist Niels Pedersen; and finally an exciting workout of "Donna Lee" with fellow alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, who sits in with Woods' regular group (Steve Gilmore, Bill Goodwin, and Harry Leahey, though Mike Melillo evidently sat out this number). Woods also sits in with various pickup groups and larger ensembles. Although the fidelity varies widely in this anthology, it never falls below an acceptable level. This rare music should greatly appeal to fans of Woods.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden