Phil Woods & His European Rhythm Machine was a brilliant though short-lived quartet that made a handful of albums between 1968 and 1973, though most of them are long out of print. Happily, this early studio effort, with pianist George Gruntz, bassist Henri Texier, and drummer Daniel Humair, has been reissued in Japan, all of whom provide first-rate rhythmic support and make the most of their solos.
The leader's "And When We Are Young" was written in tribute to Senator Robert Kennedy, who was gunned down by a cowardly assassin in the spring of 1968 in the midst of Kennedy's celebration of his presidential primary victory in California. The piece begins with a mournful dirge before cutting loose with some wailing post-bop. "Alive and Well" is a miniature, bursting with energy from start to finish.
The latter half of the session focuses upon works written by other jazz musicians. The lightening unison runs by Woods and Gruntz are only an introductory teaser to Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance"; this up-tempo rendition would quickly wear out anyone trying to keep up with it on the dancefloor. Likewise, Woods' interpretation of Oliver Nelson's landmark work "Stolen Moments" is a tad faster than the composer's famous version; Woods' alto sax almost seems like a clarinet in the softly played lower passages, and Texier's solo is a gem. A brief sign off of Sonny Rollins' "Doxy" wraps this highly recommended CD.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden
|Brand||Parlophone / Warner Japan|
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