Soul Eyes

George Robert

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Soul Eyes Review

by Ken Dryden

Small group meetings of two alto saxophonists are all too rare, though Phil Woods made a number of records with Gene Quill over the years. This concert, recorded in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2000, features George Robert as the leader who shares the spotlight with Woods, along with a superb rhythm section consisting of Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid, and Alvin Queen. The two reed players complement one another beautifully, whether they exchange the lead or play terrific unison lines together.

An extended workout of a loping "Alone Together" is followed by Robert's roller coaster bopper "Kin Tama," which would have fit in perfectly during the heyday of 52nd Street during the bop era. "Blues For C.T.," another original, is dedicated to the great trumpeter Clark Terry. Though not by any means a conventional blues, Robert and Woods take turns dazzling the audience with superbly crafted solos. The two saxophonists sit out "I'm Confessin'," a feature for Kenny Barron. The pianist's strident, unaccompanied introduction has elements of both Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, with things settling down somewhat as Reid and Queen join him. Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" has been a favorite of saxophonists for decades; this powerful version features the leader with the rhythm section. Woods returns to join Robert for the finale, an original called "Cannonization" (dedicated to alto sax great Cannonball Adderley); it is soulful hard bop at its best. Like their earlier meeting on The Summit, this live CD is warmly recommended to bop fans.