What a difference 45 years makes. But 45 years don't change a thing. If this sounds like an obvious conflict, you should listen to Phil Woods and the Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra play twelve classic arrangements by Marty Paich. Paich is one of the unsung heroes of music as a pianist, composer, and arranger. Phil Woods is one of the top alto sax players in the history of the horn. The combination deserves a listen.
So where do the 45 years come in? These arrangements were first recorded by Art Pepper in '59 and eight can be found on Art Pepper Plus Eleven , a classic in the West Coast jazz idiom. On Memorial Day weekend 2004, the Los Angeles Jazz Institute put on a four-day festival, Springsville, celebrating "The Birth of the Cool and Beyond."? For the final day of the festival, Christian Jacob assembled twelve musicians to back Woods playing the Paich arrangements. Any writing by Paich is timeless and hearing these charts again more than four decades later proves what talent Paich had. Fortunately, someone decided to record the proceeding, and what you hear on this CD is the result of this collaboration.
An obvious comparison that one could make is to the original Pepper recording. In many ways, this is a more enjoyable event. The tempos are a little more relaxed, especially on tunes like Gerry Mulligan's "Walkin' Shoes."? The members of the band, many of whom were not even born when the Pepper version was recorded, enjoy playing with Woods. This is a live performance and the interplay between Woods, band, and audience comes through.
The Paich arrangements cover some well-known jazz standards. The other tune associated with Mulligan is "Bernie's Tune,"? practically the national anthem of West Coast jazz. Bop makes its presence felt with "Groovin' High,"? "Donna Lee,"? "Anthropology,"? "Airegin,"? and "Shaw'Nuff."? Hearing Woods play the Paich arrangement of Monk's "'Round Midnight"? is another highlight.
The real heroes in this effort are the people you don't hear on the album. Ken Poston at the Los Angeles Jazz Institute produces several events each year that bring together some of the best musicians on the West Coast. Concerts, panel discussions, and just hangin' out are all part of the agenda. Graham Carter and his Jazzed Media label had the idea and the technical skills to make an album recorded in a hotel ballroom near LAX sound as good as it does. Thanks to Poston and Carter for creating the opportunity; and to Woods, Jacob, and the rest of the band for creating the music. Final thanks goes to Pepper and Paich, who came up the idea 45 years ago. Let's not wait as long for more of this.
Personnel: Phil Woods - Alto Sax, Clarinet, Frank Sazbo - Trumpet, Steve Huffsteter - Trumpet, Scott Whitfield - Trombone, Rich Bullock - Bass Trombone, Stephanie O'Keefe - French Horn, Don Shelton - Alto Sax, Brian Scanlon - Tenor Sax, Bob Carr - Baritone Sax, Brad Dutz - Vibes, Christian Jacob - Piano, Chris Conner - Bass, Paul Kreibich - Drums