Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Benny Carter and Phil Woods: Another Time, Another Place

Although they had recorded together before, first in 1961 on the brilliantly executed sax section album, Further Definitions, and more recently in 1989 on a combo session entitled My Man Benny, My Man Phil, this is the first live recording ever made of these two alto giants in tandem. Taped in March 1996 during a joint appearance at the Regattabar in Cambridge, MA, this collection presents the best of three nights’ inspired blowing, and, as such, is likely to become a collectors’ item some time in the future. Since this was a live session, there were no limitations placed on time, so of the 16 selections heard over the course of the two discs the shortest, a Woods ballad feature on Carter’s “Jane!,” tracks at close to six minutes, with the majority of the numbers averaging about nine minutes each. Accompanying these two equally majesterial artists is a rhythm section composed of pianist Chris Neville, bassist John Lockwood, and drummer Sherman Ferguson, all of whom combine to provide not only a superlative backing to the soloists but also a cohesive unity in their own moments of featured space.

Understandably, the groove throughout is solid mainstream, with the major emphasis being placed on teamwork, not competitiveness. A typical example would be Carter’s title tune, a swinging, highly melodic theme which displays the perfect sync the two altomen are able to establish without the least bit of stylistic compromise on either player’s part. Of equal merit are the other Carter compositions: “Rock Me To Sleep,” a tune first recorded by Helen Humes in 1950; the politely Latinized “The Courtship;” and “A Walkin’ Thing,” a number debuted on Carter’s 1957 Jazz Giant LP. In addition to these, there are Phil’s charming waltz, “Petite Chanson,” and the standards, “Sometimes I’m Happy,” “Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year,” “Shiny Stockings,” “On The Sunny Side Of The Street,” “On Green Dolphin Street,” “Speak Low,” “How High The Moon,” and the two Ellington tunes, “Just Squeeze Me” and “Mood Indigo.”

Originally Published