Phil Woods

Americans Swinging in Paris

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Part of a French series, Americans Swinging in Paris is an outstanding document and a welcome reissue featuring the European Rhythm Machine at its very best with French bassist Henri Texier and a couple of Swiss musicians, pianist George Gruntz, and drummer Daniel Humair, who is often mistaken for a Frenchman as is the case in the CD's liner notes. The program is comprised of two originals by Phil Woods as well as compositions by Oliver Nelson, Sonny Rollins, and Eddie Harris. The epic "And When You Are Young," which Woods penned and dedicated to the memory of Robert Kennedy, is alone worth acquiring this CD. The piece almost starts as a ballad before evolving into an emotionally charged scorcher. The saxophonist takes a long breathtaking solo and never lets the intensity drop a notch. Rarely has Woods ever sounded so adventurous. With Gruntz strumming his piano strings in the background, Texier gets the other feature and delivers a terrific solo that reveals a magnificent tone similar in grain to that of Charlie Haden. Then, the band lets it all loose before returning to the theme and bringing this real tour de force to a close. Ironically, the other masterpiece is a one-and-a-half-minute splendid version of Rollins' "Doxy" incredibly packed with ideas and substance. Woods and company say more in those 90 seconds than some artists do over the course of an album. As for the rest of the program, if it does not reach such heights, it remains first-class material performed by an inspired and wonderful band. A gem that belongs to the collection of any serious jazz fan.

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