Phil Woods

Musique Du Bois

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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos

On Musique Du Bois, things start with a chorded bass-alto workout in the intro of "Samba du Bois," actually more a hard bop than Brazilian excursion, with Phil Woods' alto frying on the edges. The most inventive juxtaposition of "All Blues" welded to "Willow Weep for Me" works perfectly over ten-plus minutes, in a steady but quick waltz tempo. This is a tour-de-force reading, Woods wafting over Jaki Byard's blue-green chords. During his solo, the pianist goes light blue in cascading, flowing phrases that tumble out of the 88 keys. "Nefertiti" is vastly different than the Miles Davis-Wayne Shorter original; where that one was haunting, sparse, swelling and free, Woods interprets this as an easy swinger, anchored on terra firma with Byard's scurrying solo and funky R&B coda a listener's delight. The band goes through definite time shifts, from easy bluesy groove to funk and hard bop during "The Last Page"; they swing "Airegin" pretty well; and during "The Summer Knows," the altoist confirms what many have long since known -- that he is an unsurpassed master when interpreting a standard in ballad form. A lilting alternate take of "Samba du Bois" is the more Latin-oriented one, same tempo but with drums and the trio introing and playing all the way through. This LP is a widely acknowledged modern jazz masterpiece, a classic in the discography of Woods, easily amongst the best five recordings of his long and storied career -- and a must-buy.

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