Phil Woods – A Life in E Flat [Portrait of a Jazz Legend] (2005)

by | May 25, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Phil Woods – A Life in E Flat  [Portrait of a Jazz Legend]  (2005)

Studio: Jazzed Media #JM 9001
Video: Enhanced for 16:9 widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital stereo, PCM stereo

Regional coding: None
Extras: Interviews
Length: 64:24 Documentary/ 22:17 Interviews
Rating: ****

Reviewing the DVD of Phil Woods “A Life in E Flat”  was a real treat, especially after having the opportunity to review the companion CD:  This is How I Feel about Quincy. Seeing the band play on video and rehearse for the CD issue was an eye-opener. When you listen to the finished product, the released CD, one gets the feeling that the music flowed effortlessly at the session, even though you know that sometimes many takes are involved before one is chosen for release.  Hearing Q’s Delight and The Quintessence on the DVD brought home the effort and care that went into the Quincy Jones tribute CD.

But that is only the beginning. The DVD of A Life in E Flat is so much more than that. Hearing Phil describe his first horn, received from his uncle, taking lessons from his revered music teacher, Harvey La Rose, and discovering the triumvirate of jazz alto – Carter, Hodges, and Parker, is a lesson in jazz history. Phil’s reverence and awe even now of Bird, speaks to the hero worship we all have for the people we love and the passions of our lives.

Woods had the chance to both play for Bird and even use Bird’s horn to raise money to get goods out of hock. Playing with Dizzy at age 24 is described as growing up as a musician with life lessons from Diz and Art Blakey. Traveling with the Birdland All-Stars was an on the road education with young and old musicians sharing the bus and their life stories.

This DVD mixes interviews with Phil with actual recording studio takes. Phil describes his longtime band mates as family as they surely must be after playing together for over 30 years. With less than five pianists and trumpeters – and the same bassist and drummer – since the 1970s, including a brief period without a trumpet in his band, Woods could count on his mates to be able to play over 1000 songs.

Phil’s remembrance of his alto brother, Gene Quill, is another precious gift shared in this 2005 Jazzed Media DVD issue. For the Phil Woods jazz lovers in your life, a shared gift of this DVD with the companion CD issue of This is How I Feel About Quincy, is a sure way to show both your good taste and a Life in E Flat.

– Jeff Krow

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