May 2000

Phil Woods and the Jazz Class Orchestra
Porgy and Bess
Philology

There has never been a better player of the saxophone than Phil Woods. His total mastery of the instrument allows him to articulate instantly any idea that pops into his head. This 1994 recording is just one more demonstration of that virtuosity. Up-tempo, slow, Latinesque-whatever-Woods flies all over the horn, initiating and following through on long, sequential patterns where any misstep would be obvious. And he fleshes out those lines with material from a vast storehouse of tonal, melodic, and rhythmic effects, including spur of the moment quotes from myriad sources. Woods may be at his best when working over tunes familiar to his audience. This collection of ten classic Porgy and Bess songs is just such an instance, with his heartrending reading of "I Loves You Porgy" as moving a version of that song as one is likely to hear. On this occasion, Woods was accompanied by an excellent Italian big band.

Originally published in May 2000
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