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Phil Woods: Groovin' to Marty Paich (2005)

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Phil Woods: Groovin' to Marty Paich How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

More than 45 years ago, arranger Marty Paich and alto saxophone legend Art Pepper recorded the benchmark album Art Pepper + Eleven, on which Pepper and a "mini-big band performed Paich's superlative charts. Fast forward to May 2004, when Ken Poston and the Los Angeles Jazz Institute presented "Springsville, a four-day festival celebrating "the Birth of the Cool and beyond. One of the stars on hand for the event was alto saxophonist Phil Woods, and the idea occurred to place him in front of a contemporary ensemble and reinterpret the Paich/Pepper album in his own inimitable style.

The result is Groovin' with Marty Paich, recorded live (no chance to conceal any unsightly blemishes) by Graham Carter's Jazzed Media during "Springsville, with Woods and the hastily named Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra (one would call it a pick-up band were that not an affront to the talent in every chair). Eight of the twelve selections are from Art Pepper + Eleven (Pepper's widow, Laurie, furnished the original charts), two ("I've Never Been in Love Before, "Too Close for Comfort ) from the album The Broadway Bit, the others ("Moanin', "Violets for Your Furs ) from I Get a Boot Out of You.

In spite of its lofty pedigree, the band has a bit of trouble gathering its sea legs on Dizzy Gillespie's "whispered opener, "Groovin' High, but charts a more harmonious course on Gerry Mulligan's cozy "Walkin' Shoes. I assume that's trumpeter Steve Huffsteter soloing with Woods on "Groovin', as he does on "Shoes. Pianist Christian Jacob, who directs the band and introduces each of the songs, is one of several soloists on Frank Loesser's "I've Never Been in Love Before. The others are trombonist Scott Whitfield, tenor Brian Scanlon, alto Don Shelton, bassist Chris Conner and vibraphonist Brad Dutz. Stephanie O'Keefe's French horn launches Monk's soulful "'Round Midnight, which is followed by Bird's fleet-footed "Donna Lee and Bobby Timmons' "Moanin', on which Woods deftly inserts quotes from "Song of the Volga Boatmen and Peggy Lee's "Why Don't You Do Right.

Phil plays clarinet on "Anthropology, and even though he seems reluctant to do so ("Did you know, he asks the audience, "that the clarinet was invented by seven people who never met each other? ) his solo is sharp and resourceful, as was Pepper's on Art Pepper + Eleven. It's back to alto for the Matt Dennis ballad "Violets for Your Furs and the last four numbers, the swinging "Bernie's Tune, Sonny Rollins' buoyant "Airegin, "Too Close for Comfort and one more by Diz and Bird, the bop classic "Shaw'nuff. Huffsteter solos on "Airegin and "Shaw'nuff," Conner and baritone Bob Carr on "Too Close.

Even though the lack of rehearsal time is occasionally visible, Woods is in superb form, and this is an altogether captivating sequel to Art Pepper's exemplary album.

Track Listing: Groovin High; Walkin Shoes; Ive Never Been in Love Before; Round Midnight; Donna Lee; Moanin; Anthropology; Violets for Your Furs; Bernies Tune; Airegin; Too Close for Comfort; Shawnuff (53:07)

Personnel: Phil Woods, alto sax, clarinet; Frank Szabo, Steve Huffsteter, trumpet; Scott Whitfield, trombone; Rick Bullock, bass trombone; Stephanie OKeefe, 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.

Record Label: Jazzed Media

Style: Big Band


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