Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Song for Sisyphus
Genres: Jazz, Pop
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One of Phil's best
Adam | Cambridge, Mass. | 01/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is Phil Woods at his prime. While I still think his best album is "Birds of a Feather" (one of the best alto saxophone albums of all time, in my opinion), "Sisyphus" showcases his passionate, lyrical approach, deeply rooted in bebop but not simply rehashing phrases. He came up in the era of bebop and has a thorough understanding of the language, so he can construct his own phrases, sentences, paragraphs and not simply plagiarize those originated by others. His tone is huge and extremely nuanced, with scoops, growls, and glissandos only serving to enhance his melodic phrasing. All in all, Phil is a serious, moving musician, a true master, and this is a great introduction to his musicianship."
Five star performance, one star reissue
J. Douglas Benson | Maryland | 07/24/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Like the other reviewers, I too grew up listening to this one. It is,in fact, one of my all time favorite jazz recordings, especially Harry Leahy's guitar solo of Django's "Nuages". So why only three stars? I had to split the difference.
This was originally released as a 'direct to disc' LP; an audiophile experiment that was fairly common in the seventies. This means it was mixed on-the-spot by engineers who cut it directly to a wax master, bypassing magnetic tape and offering the cleanest possible vinyl product. The sound was pure, natural and pristeen. The session was also simultaneously recorded on a multitrack tape recorder, where it was remixed by engineers using standard multitrack techniques. The 'multitrack' version is panned differently, processed differently using artificial reverb and effects, and has been run through some kind of a bass enhancement processor that would be more appropriate for Heavy Metal than for a jazz quintet. It is this later version that you'll find on this CD. To compare, I pulled out my old LP copy of 'Sisyphus' and made an A-B comparison with the CD. Even with 30+ year-old vinyl, the record sounded FAR FAR BETTER than this compact disc. I wish they had used the original studio mix for the reissue, rather than the 'tampered-with' version. I'll be transferring my LP to CD for future listening."
I'll always love this one
R. S. Rosen | Where in the world am I? I've been asking myself | 02/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Phil was my idol back when I was in high school and college, playing alto. That was around 1978-80, during his quartet years with Melillo on piano. I heard him live many times and he was always awesome. I heard him a couple of times later on, post-Melillo, and was disappointed. I've heard very little of his work after this period, but from what I've heard, I've concluded that Woods hit his peak during this time. Song For Sissyphus captures the level of his playing during this time very well. The playing is just outstanding, and "Choose Partners" alone is worth the price of admission. There's a passage following the solos when Phil comes back and plays an improvised duet with bassist Gilmore, starting low and soft and gradually building up as the other members of the quintet join in one by one, and it's all executed with such perfection, it's just one of the most exciting things I've ever heard on record.
The recording is like a Woods quintet live set in miniature, in that he gives pianist Melillo and guitarist Leahy a cut each to themselves, just like in performance when he always gave them an unaccompanied solo each set. (It's a measure of Melillo's sense of humor that he chose a tune from a Marx Brothers movie for his solo on this recording.)
I don't like everything Phil does; he is often frustrating for me to listen to, as he tends to repeat himself a lot when he's not inspired (but then, I guess everyone does; even Charlie Parker played some of the same phrases a million times). His two live quartet albums from this period were, to my great disappointment, not up to the quality of which he was capable. But when he's 'on', he comes from a wellspring of creativity from which he constructs solos of tremendous power and beauty, and he's definitely 'on' here.
I'm adding this a few years later, just having re-listened to the live quartet albums. I take it back, they are excellent."