April 1997

Phil WoodsQuintet
Mile High Jazz Live in Denver
Concord Jazz

Woods' alto wizardry may have its roots in the work of Charlie Parker, but his music's hip harmonies and arrangements help make it uniquely organic and progressive. Of course, band mates the caliber of Brian Lynch, Bill Charlap, Steve Gilmore, and Bill Goodwin play a key role, as this six-tune set reveals.

Charlap, the newest addition to the group, provides the burning, extended opener, "Blues For K.B.," which culminates with varied interplay between Woods and trumpeter Brian Lynch, who obviously push each other to new plateaus. "Song For Sass," a nostalgically lyrical original, features a particularly soulful alto solo that occasionally bristles with that characteristic Woodsian virtuosity; later, Charlap adds a lithe piano exploration that rises and falls like ocean swells. A kinetic Lynch-penned samba, "Clairevoyance" underscores the group's open-minded approach as the members deftly wind their way through the twisting and turning changes, bringing the night to a conclusion that in a way sums up Woods' musical persona: stellar levels of performance coupled with progressive sounds that acknowledge tradition.

Originally published in April 1997
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