Verve 60th Anniversary Rare Albums SHM-CD Reissue Series. Reissue with SHM-CD format. Phil Woods' recordings with his short-lived European Rhythm Machine are among the most adventurous of his career, though few of them have been available in the CD era. This 1969 concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival features the alto saxophonist with pianist George Gruntz, bassist Henri Texier and drummer Daniel Humair in a wide ranging set.
Phil Woods & His European Rhythm Machine was a brilliant though short-lived quartet that made a handful of albums between 1968 and 1973, though most of them are long out of print. Happily, this early studio effort, with pianist George Gruntz, bassist Henri Texier, and drummer Daniel Humair, has been reissued in Japan by Toshiba-EMI, all of whom provide first-rate rhythmic support and make the most of their solos. The leader's "And When We Are Young" was written in tribute to Senator Robert Kennedy, who was gunned down by a cowardly assassin in the spring of 1968 in the midst of Kennedy's celebration of his presidential primary victory in California. The piece begins with a mournful dirge before cutting loose with some wailing post-bop.
In 1970, when Inner City Records was just getting off the ground, Phil Woods was in Europe enjoying himself, and collaborating with musicians who were definitely feeling the spell of the Miles Davis groundbreaking jazz fusion epic Bitches Brew. While always a staunch straight-ahead bebop player, Woods decided to mix it up a bit and incorporate elements of funk, rock, and free improvisation, much to the likely chagrin of his listeners. In fact, a vitriolic letter printed on the back cover from an unidentified fan residing in Chicopee Falls, MA, rips Woods for abandoning melody, criticizes his titles, and actually threatens him with physical violence should he ever show up in his town.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. Altoist Phil Woods' European Rhythm Machine was the most adventurous group he ever led, bordering on the avant-garde at times. The 1970 version (which includes pianist Gordon Beck, bassist Henri Texier and drummer Daniel Humair) is showcased on this 1986 reissue performing two group originals, Victor Feldman's "Joshua" and "Freedom Jazz Dance."
This double disc more or less collects the entire recorded material of The Explorers. For the uninitiated, Explorers were a band project featuring Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay of Roxy Music which surfaced after the disbanding of Roxy Music in 1983. Think of it as a Bryan Ferry-less Roxy. The trademark sax assault and classy oboe playing of Andy Mackay and the economic but always tasteful guitar textures of Phil Manzanera are there, but the emphasis is on songs. The vocalist/third member is James Wraith, whose voice is a stylish cross between Ferry and Saga's Michael Sadler(somewhat). They did two albums, 'The Explorers' and 'Manzanera & Mackay'. Musically it continues in the post-Avalon Roxy direction, and if you liked 'Flesh + Blood', this is your ticket: soulful and well-crafted pop songs with atmosphere and professionalism.