Phil Woods – Woodlore (1956) [TrackList follows] – Prestige/ Analogue Productions CPRJ 7018 SA, 33:04 SACD mono ***½:
(Phil Woods – alto sax; John Williams – piano; Teddy Kotick – bass; Nick Stabulas – drums)
Having just heard Phil Woods at the Detroit Jazz Festival a few weeks ago, when Phil was still blowing hard (though with the aid of full time oxygen) at the ripe old age of 82, it was a real trip to hear Woodlore, which was recorded back in 1956, when Woods had just turned 25. Getting the opportunity to listen in remastered (by Kevin Gray) mono sound in the SACD format even makes it that much sweeter. This session was reportedly Phil’s first as the sole horn, and his first 12-inch LP recording.
Playing primarily standards plus two of his own tunes (the title track and “Strollin’ with Pam“) – Woods has a lightly swinging tone. Somewhat influenced by Charlie Parker (he married Chan Parker after Bird’s passing), Woods takes “Slow Boat to China” out in a relaxed manner. “Falling in Love All Over Again” is a pretty ballad and Phil makes it romantic.
On “Strollin with Pam” Woods shows his mastery of the blues. Remastering brings Nick Stabulas’ drums more upfront, and Teddy Kotick sets a steady beat. “Get Happy“ is a burner and Woods eats up the changes.
Woodlore is part of the Prestige re-release series in SACD, with 25 titles of mono recordings and 25 in stereo. They are all mastered from the original analog master tapes. The goal is to surpass the original Prestige vinyl issues.
This Phil Woods issue passes the sound test. It’s great to have Woods still with us over a half century later…
TrackList: Slow Boat to China, Get Happy, Strollin’ with Pam, Woodlore, Falling in Love All Over Again, Be My Love