Saxophonist Greg Abate
Captures One Of The Final Live Performances
By Phil Woods On His New
Whaling City Sound CD
Greg Abate boasts one of hard bop’s best-known alto saxophones. In fact, he’s earned the nickname “the prince of bebop,” which makes perfect sense if you’ve seen him perform or if you’ve heard any number of his recordings. It won’t take long, as you spin his new recording, for you to hear the brio in Abate’s work, the power and passion behind his playing. He truly does his instrument justice.
It is something of an injustice that his bandmate on this recording, Phil Woods, is no longer with us to feel the love and hear the accolades bestowed on his and Abate’s new work. Woods, who passed in late September, was throughout his career widely hailed as one of the prototypical practitioners on the instrument. Prior to his passing, Abate and Woods, backed by the Tim Ray Trio—which includes world-class talents Ray on piano, Mark Walker on drums and John Lockwood on bass—whipped up the ebullient vibes on Kindred Spirits Live at Chan’s. Live is one of just a short list of Woods’ last live sax performances caught on record, and essentially and unexpectedly, a recording dedicated to the jazz giant.
It goes without question that Woods enjoyed an illustrious career, one that was both inspired and inspirational. He began playing the sax at 12, developed his artistry in the wake of the incredible legacy left by the king of bebop, Charlie Parker. Woods became one of the instrument’s true standard bearers and he mentored countless young musicians throughout his life.
It’s not a coincidence that Abate himself, an individualist on the instrument, pays a deep artistic debt to the fine work of Phil Woods and Parker before him. This recording, in consummate Abate fashion, is tasteful and powerful, as well as an emotional send-off to a musician the likes of which we will not witness again. Still you can hear him side by side with Abate, onstage, brimming with the noise and notes from two great saxophones. This music, like so much of Woods' work, will surely live on forever.
Review By Matt Micucci (Lean Crowley News)
The live album Kindered Spirit was originally intended to be a celebration of the music of Phil Woods, the celebrated bebop alto saxophonist, clarinetist, bandleader and composer. Instead, it sadly turned into a memorial, as Woods passed away on September, aged 83. His death was one of the biggest losses in the jazz world this year.
Kindered Spirits Live was a recording of one of just a few live performances by Woods that took place earlier in the year, more specifically, the performance in Chan’s in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
There, he joined on stage another revered saxophonist, Greg Abate, whose artistry earned him the nickname of “prince of bebop”. It’s no coincidence that Abate himself, an individualist on the instrument, pays a deep artistic dept to the fine work of Phil Woods, and Charlie Parker who came before him, in capturing one of his final live performances.
They were backed by the Tim Ray Trio, itself composed of world class talents, with Ray himself on piano, Mark Walter on drums and John Lockwood on bass.
Phil Woods enjoyed an illustrious career that was both inspired and inspirational. He began playing the sax at the age of 12, and developed his artistry in the wake of the incredible legacy left by the king of bebop, Charlie Parker.
Kindered Spirits Live, in consummate Abate fashion, is tasteful and powerful, as well as an emotional send-off to a musician the likes of which we will not witness again.
Review By DAN MCCLENAGHAN (Allaboutjazz.com)
The legendary alto saxophonist Phil Woods' (1931-2015) health was failing at the time Kindred Spirits: Live at Chan's was recorded, but you never know it by listening to the crisp delivery, the vitality of a hot bebop band playing in the mode of the iconic altoist Charlie Parker. Saxophonist Greg Abate joins Woods in the front line, and the Tim Ray Trio backs them up.
It's not a first teaming for Abate and Woods. A student/mentor relationship exists there, and Greg Abate Quintet Featuring Phil Woods (Positone Records, 2012) is a testament to passion and energy the two saxophonists could conjure. So is Kindred Spirits: Live at Chan's. It's a two CD set, and the amount of the music presented is generous, the quality of the performance first rate all around.
"Steeplechase," from the pen of Charlie Parker, opens the set. Another version of the tune closes the first disc, and CD 2 has the Bird's "Yardbird Suite." The pioneer's spirit looms with a smile over the proceedings.
Abate and Woods truly prove themselves kindred souls. It takes a good ear to pick out who's doing the individual solos, though the personnel section in the accompanying booklet let's us know that Abate took the first turn on all but three numbers. Both altoists are steeped deep in the bebop tradition, and both play with passion. The Tim Ray Trio is impeccable, the pianist's solo slots full of fun and verve.
This is a polished master class in straight ahead bebop, with it's lovingly rendered Parker tunes, and Standards like Harold Arlen's "A Sleepin' Bee," the classic "Angel Eyes," Horace Silver's "Strollin,'" a melancholy "I'll Remember April," and a spicy take of Kurt Weill's "Speak Low," with the sax guys sitting out and letting the trio shine.
Phil Woods was a consistently joyful and inspired performer for more sixty years. Kindred Spirits: Live at Chan's is another gem in his discography.