Phil Woods

An Affair to Remember

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The Phil Woods Quintet generally makes a point of featuring original material by its members, but not on this album, a collection of movie songs from the '30s through the '60s. Some, like "Invitation" and "On Green Dolphin Street," went on to become perennial jam session standards, while others, like Michel Legrand's "His Eyes, Her Eyes," aren't nearly as familiar. No matter what the vehicle, Woods and company take to it with their customary mix of chops and elegance. This was the quintet in its especially strong mid-'90s incarnation, with Woods, trumpeter Brian Lynch, pianist Jim McNeely, bassist Steve Gilmore, and drummer Bill Goodwin, all of whom interpret the material with mastery. On "You Stepped Out of a Dream," the first eight bars of the melody are replaced by a motif from Horace Silver's "Strolling," transposed three times in sequence to fit over the changes. The final track, "Over the Rainbow," is also quite a surprise: Beginning with the seldom-heard intro, the band then states the melody at a breakneck swing tempo before easing into waltz time for the solos. This level of creativity isn't sustained all the way through, however, and the lack of original material makes the album somewhat less than representative. Still, the playing is characteristically strong, showcasing one of the best and longest-running straight-ahead small groups in the business.

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