by Greg Thomas
Alto saxophonist Phil Woods is a consummate musician whose mastery of improvisation is second to none. He extends from the holy alto trinity—Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges, Charlie Parker—and has carved a distinctive, influential style. If Paul Desmond's sound is akin to a dry martini, Woods' is like high-grade cognac, sensual and luxurious, burnished with virile delight that warms your body.
His apprenticeship with Charlie Barnet, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Quincy Jones, Oliver Nelson, Buddy Rich, Thelonious Monk and Clark Terry prepared him for leadership, especially of his quartets and quintets, which, over the past 30+ years, have included bassist Steve Gilmore and drummer Bill Goodwin. The three recordings here feature these rhythm section stalwarts, who provide sympathetic support for Woods in any context.