Lee Konitz / Phil Woods

Phil & Lee: Two Brothers in Three Flats

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What looks on the surface to be a fairly straightforward set by Phil Woods and Lee Konitz during their several days performing together at the 2003 Umbira Jazz Festival in Pescara, Italy, is anything but that. Konitz invites the audience to hum a sustained note to support his intricate free improvisation, with Woods joining him after a bit, gradually segueing into an intriguing take of "Alone Together." This sets the table for most of the CD, as the alto saxophonists play freely as they slowly work their way into other standards including "Just Friends," "Cherokee," and a full reprise of "Alone Together." Konitz is unaccompanied in the dissonant exploration of "I Remember You," while Woods is mesmerizing with his dash through "Cherokee." Each alto saxophonist takes a turn at the piano as well in support of his partner, Woods in "My Old Flame" and Konitz during the wild finale "Free With Phil & Lee." The unusual "Scattin' With Phil & Lee" finds the two men putting down their instruments and scatting improvised lines together, with Konitz playing a bit of piano as well. Stefano Bollani takes over the piano for a powerful duet of "Everything Happens to Me" with Konitz. Franco D'Andrea is at the keyboard for the jaunty duet with Woods of "In Walked Bud." This is one of the assets of a small independent label; it would be hard to imagine a major jazz label issuing a CD such as this brilliant effort, let alone simultaneously releasing three other CDs by the same pair of musicians recorded during the same festival. The excellent sound adds to the considerable value of this adventurous meeting between Phil Woods and Lee Konitz.