Phil Woods: Groovin' to Marty Paich
Groovin' to Marty Paich
In its quiet and amiable way, Phil Woods- Groovin' to Marty Paich is one of the most significant recordings of this year. Recorded at the Los Angeles International Airport Sheraton Hotel on May 30, 2004, the music on Groovin' to Marty Paich is almost too humble about its auspicious beginnings. The story of this music begins almost 50 years ago in the mind and talent of a West Coast 34-year-old pianist/arranger named Martin Paich.
Marty Paich, who could be described as the West Coast Tadd Dameron, possessed greater jazz credentials than peers strictly because of his 1950s Los Angeles experience. Born in Oakland, CA, on January 23, 1925; Paich began modestly as a pianist (like Dameron), and was performing professionally by age 16. He and Pete Rugolo wrote arrangements for a local bandleader before being drafted for military service in 1943. Gratefully, Paich continued to arrange while serving as the leader of the Army Air Corps band through the end of World War II. Once discharged, Paich rode G.I. Bill in furthering his musical education, enrolling at UCLA to study arranging under classical composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He went on to earn a master's degree from the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music in 1951, and immediately found work in the West Coast music industry as both an arranger and pianist.
As it turned out, Paich soon was just warming up and moved on to playing and arranging for drummer Shelly Manne and trumpeter Shorty Rogers through 1954. Additionally, he performed as Peggy Lee's accompanist and musical director during her most popular period. Like Tadd Dameron, Paich fronted his own groups, and in 1955, began recording for a succession of labels that included Mode, Tampa, Candid, Warner, and RCA Victor. He backed Dorothy Dandridge, and arranged (and performed on) the soundtrack to the Disney film Lady and the Tramp (1955). During the late '50s, Paich wrote arrangements for a anyone who mattered in West Coast jazz, including Chet Baker, Buddy Rich, Ray Brown, Dave Pell, and Stan Kenton. His most notable contribution came with Mel Tormé, for whom he supported with a ten-piece group dubbed the Dek-tette. This union resulted in the classic album Mel Tormé and the Marty Paich Dek-tette (Lulu's back in Town) and many other superb sessions.
For the current discussion, the year 1959 looms the largest. The year 1959 is a ground zero year for jazz. So important was this year to Jazz, that AAJ writer Nathan Holloway penned an AAJ Building a Jazz Library article out of it. Funny that he would have forgotten one of the most important recordings (forgive me, Nathan). In 1959, Marty Paich convened a "little big band for a series of recording sessions that were to result in Marty Paich Orchestra-The Broadway Bit, Marty Paich Orchestra-The New York Scene, Marty Paich Orchestra-Moanin', Marty Paich Orchestra-I Get a Boot Out of You, and Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics. While the former of these recordings are excellent examples of the West Coast aesthetic in Jazz, the latter, the Art Pepper offering, is one of the most important recordings in jazz. What Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics proved was Paich could write for a medium-sized band and make it sound like a large orchestra. This recording was Paich's Derek and the Dominoes-Layla.
Looming large, but not formally credited in the proceedings is alto saxophonist Art Pepper (1925-1982). He is one of the common denominators to all of the selections included on Groovin' to Marty Paich as he was first chair alto saxophone on all selections included on the recording. I dare say that it was on the coattails of Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics that the other Paich-led dates gained their popularity. It is the spirit of Art Pepper that permeates the Phil Woods' tribute as much as that of the talented arranger. In fact, it would be appropriate to consider the Paich-Pepper recordings as extensions of Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics or vice versa. In any event, all of these recording should be released. Mosaic: Consider a Marty Paich-Art Pepper set!
Phil Woods- Groovin' to Marty Paich breaks down like this, sessionography- wise:
- Groovin' High - March 28, 1959, Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics
- Walkin' Shoes - March 14, 1959, Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics
- I've Never Been In Love Before - January 1959, Marty Paich-Moanin' (most recent release)
- Round Midnight - March 14, 1959, Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics
- Donna Lee - March 28, 1959, Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics
- Moanin' - June 30, July 2 & 7 1959, Marty Paich-Moanin' (most recent release)
- Anthropology - March 28, 1959, Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics
- Violets For Your Furs - June 30, July 2 & 7 1959, Marty Paich-Moanin' (most recent release)
- Bernie's Tune - May 12, 1959, Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics
- Airegin - March 14, 1959, Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics
- Too Close For Comfort - January 1959, Marty Paich-Moanin' (most recent release)
- Shaw'nuff - March 28, 1959, Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics.
Allowing for little practice time, this recording is a tribute to the jazz performer's art-improvisation and playing by the seat of one's pants. The listener need only to listen to Phil Wood's sotto voce introduction to "Anthropology where he is trying to convey the tempo of the piece in addition to the fact that he is quite respectful of the clarinet (the instrument used by Art Pepper to play "Anthropology on Art Pepper + Eleven Plays Modern Jazz Classics). The true highlight of the recording is the burning performance of "Violets For Your Furs, which comes off as a smoldering funk, ballad.
Bandleader Christian Jacob lends a superb musical hand (and Francophonic accent) to the proceedings, making the show move at a brisk pace. His greatest affinity is for Paich's ballad arranging, which he leads with great aplomb and fervor. Phil Woods proves ever the spanning bridge through the last 60 years of jazz. His playing remains full-bodied and intelligent, assimilating the bebop of Charlie Parker with the swing of Johnny Hodges, and the modern bent of... well... Phil Woods.
Phil Woods- Groovin' to Marty Paich is a delight. It is a quiet, brilliant recording that will please even the stingiest of listeners. This recording is an end-of-the-year selection for sure.
Personnel: Phil Woods- alto sax, clarinet; Frank Szabo, Steve Huffsteter- trumpet; Scott Whitfield- trombone; Rick 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.
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