Phil Woods' Quintet At Its Relaxed and Creative Best
John Tapscott | Canada | 12/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Following up on the fine American Songbook from 2002, the Phil Woods Quintet recorded American Songbook II in early 2007. All the positive comments that apply to the earlier CD apply to this one as well, and if anything, American Songbook II may be a notch better. The Phil Woods Quintet has been together for a long time, and even if the group has been on lay-off, they're just as tight when they gather as if they've been on a three month tour of one-nighters. Such is the case here. Undergirded by the creative drumming of Bill Goodwin, the stellar bass work of Steve Gilmore and the sensitive piano stylings of Bill Charlap, the Quintet is an amazingly compatible, relaxed and swinging group with a stunning grasp of dynamics.
American Songbook II presents a set of ten high quality standards, and each selection is enhanced by a wonderfully appropriate arrangement (six by Woods, four by Brian Lynch). The ear-catching intros and out chrouses set the stage perfectly for inspired and flowing bop-based improvisations by Woods on alto saxophone, Lynch on trumpet and pianist Charlap. Every tune is performed at a high level, but a few highlights of the program include "Suddenly It's Spring", "I Remember You", "I'll Take Romance", and the closing "Night and Day". Each track is immediately accessible to the listener, but reveals more and more depth with each listen. If Brian Lynch was the star of the earlier Amercian Songbook CD, there's no doubt that Woods himself is the star here, in top creative form on every tune, which you hear right off the bat on "Suddenly It's Spring", and in his stunning unaccompanied intro and subsequent ballad solo on "Last Night." But it must be noted that Lynch is also at the top of his game, and is featured very effectively with the rhythm section on "Bewitched."
This CD deseves the highest possible rating and is recommended highly to Phil Woods fans and all listeners who enjoy creative, melodic and swinging jazz music. I have listened to American Songbook II often and with real enjoyment over the past several months. I suspect this will happen for anyone who buys this excellent CD."
The American Songbook Lights-up!
Robert G. Rutkas | Chicago, Il. | 01/25/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of Phil's Best. The second in a series of two. I'm hoping for three!
Fresh arrangements and exceptionally clean playing. It is amazing how well Phil and Brian Lynch blend and play with great energy. This pair of recordings needs to find a place in your library. Bill Charlap, Steve Gilmore and Bill Goodwin are Phil's long time quartet members. A tighter group you will not find!"