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Washington D.C. native Andrea Wood has assimilated the area's disparate musical styles. Properly trained, Wood exerts impressive creative control over her material, one that is not afraid to take chances. Her alto is both powerful and pliable, capable of Betty Carter-like flights of fancy, and dhyana is a collision of every tradition between here and the Old World.
But from this multicultural miasma rises the Rodgers and Hart standard "My Favorite Things," presented in a way that guarantees it won't see any Christmas compilations this year, because Wood has chosen to treat the song as John Coltrane did: as an improvisatory vehicle. While the waltz is still evident, Wood departs from the familiar melody early, experimenting with timing and phrasing. Elijah Jamal Balbed turns a straight tenor solo, tying up Wood's frenetic attach in a perfect bow that will never be opened at Christmas.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.