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sgcim

Billy Ver Planck Reissue

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FS put out a reissue of BVP's entire output as a leader. I was always interested in checking out his albums because he used good sidemen, i.e. Phil Woods, Eddie Costa, Frank Rehak, Pepper Adams, and Bobby Jaspar. 

BVP was a trombonist /arr. who admired Bill Harris, and arranged in a mainstream, Woody Herman style.He was the husband of Marlene Ver Planck, the vocalist.

Basically, you get about five good Phil Woods solos from 1957-58, when he made the break from being just another Bird imitator to finding his own voice, two good Eddie Costa solos, and some good playing on one album that featured three flutes and a wind doubler, plus trombone and rhythm playing Bird tunes, by Bobby Jaspar. You also get a few good Pepper Adams solos from a horrible LP called 'The Soul of Jazz' that tried to blend white, cornball gospel and jazz, with disastrous results. Thankfully, they swing on the solos, and only play the jive-ass triadic 'gospel' garbage on the heads.

If you can find some way of just getting the six or seven cuts that have extended Woods, Costa Jaspar and Adams solos, that's about all that's worth hearing from this reissue.

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Ver Planck not only admired Bill Harris; Harris himself plays very well on several of these albums. Also, I don't agree that Phil Woods pre-'57-'58 was "just another Bird imitator"; rather, while his initial fondness for Parker was undeniable, he worked out almost from the first a quite personal style that owed less to Parker than did most other altoists of the time who had paid due attention to Bird. Further, I'm one of those semi-pariahs (in some quarters) who think that the change in Woods' style that undeniably began to take place c. '58-59 was not for the best.

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I never heard of him before, outside his work for Prestige in the early seventies. Some of that stuff was half reasonable, though entirely because of soloists like Houston Person. I'm surprised he had even a little reputation.

MG

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2 hours ago, The Magnificent Goldberg said:

I never heard of him before, outside his work for Prestige in the early seventies. Some of that stuff was half reasonable, though entirely because of soloists like Houston Person. I'm surprised he had even a little reputation.

MG

Are you talking about Woods or Ver Planck? 

If you're talking about Woods, go ask Peter King what he thinks about Woods...

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19 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

Ver Planck not only admired Bill Harris; Harris himself plays very well on several of these albums. Also, I don't agree that Phil Woods pre-'57-'58 was "just another Bird imitator"; rather, while his initial fondness for Parker was undeniable, he worked out almost from the first a quite personal style that owed less to Parker than did most other altoists of the time who had paid due attention to Bird. Further, I'm one of those semi-pariahs (in some quarters) who think that the change in Woods' style that undeniably began to take place c. '58-59 was not for the best.

I can only quote from one of my fave jazz critics, Doug Ramsey who wrote about Woods' 'coming out' session on the 1957 LP Herbie Mann's 'Bebop Synthesis' (AKA 'Yardbird Suite') The Savoy Sessions:

"The co-star of the album, or possibly the star, depending on the orientation of your ears, is Phil Woods.He was 26 when the date was recorded, five years out of Julliard, deep into Charlie Parker, and a formidable alto player. Phil had worked with Charlie Barnet, George Wallington, Friedrich Gulda, Dizzy Gillespie and others.he had studied with Lennie Tristano and formed extremely pleasing recording partnerships with Jimmy Raney and with fellow alto saxophonist Gene Quill.

There were few alto men in 1957 who played with Woods' fire and melodic daring. even in those days, there was no Bird disciple who made more effective use of the Parker tradition than Woods. He has continued to build on that tradition and to introduce even greater passion and lyricism, and in the mid 1970s he is clearly a giant of his instrument. It would be useless to detail Phil's best moments in this collection. He was having a great day, and there is such life, depth, and edge to his playing that he comes near to overwhelming the occasion."

The point was that PW's playing was fine before this session, but he began exhibiting the qualities Ramsey indicated above on a regular basis, rather than intermittently.

But don't trust me, hold a seance and ask Oliver Nelson why he faced death threats from the black musicians in his big band for having a white musician (PW) as star soloist in his  band, and wrote an essay on how Woods was one of the few white musicians who could hold his own with any black player on the scene in the 60s.

Or Dizzy when he featured him in his world-touring big band, as did Quincy Jones; or Hall Overton when he had PW play first alto in the Monk Big Band Concert at Town Hall; or Manny Albam when he featured Woods on all of his albums of the late 50s and 60s; or Gary McFarland when he featured him as a soloist in his live Big Band album; or Kenyon Hopkins when he featured him as a soloist in much of the film music he wrote for The Hustler, Lilith, and other films; or Rob McConnell when he featured him on an album celled 'Woods and Brass'; or the many sessions and concerts with Michel Legrand, where PW got a standing ovation(I was there) at Carnegie Hall for his astounding solo feature on 'You Must Remember Spring'.

Or ask Scooby, one of the members of this board, why he has spent countless hours transcribing many of Woods' solos.

Woods refused to settle into the non-creative role of the non-jazz studio musician,or Broadway show player, and established himself in Europe with albums like The European Rhythm Machine's 'Live at Montreaux' album featuring musicians like Daniel Humair, Gordon Beck and, George Gruntz . When he returned to the US, he was able to play uncompromising jazz for the rest of his life.

Woods refused to let a life ending battle with Emphezyma stop his declared mission as a "Jazz Warrior " and I witnessed him playing Cannonball Adderly's part in the "New Bottles, Old Wine' album in a concert at the Manhattan School of Music, dragging his oxygen tank along with him.

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, sgcim said:

I can only quote from one of my fave jazz critics, Doug Ramsey who wrote about Woods' 'coming out' session on the 1957 LP Herbie Mann's 'Bebop Synthesis' (AKA 'Yardbird Suite') The Savoy Sessions:

"The co-star of the album, or possibly the star, depending on the orientation of your ears, is Phil Woods.He was 26 when the date was recorded, five years out of Julliard, deep into Charlie Parker, and a formidable alto player. Phil had worked with Charlie Barnet, George Wallington, Friedrich Gulda, Dizzy Gillespie and others.he had studied with Lennie Tristano and formed extremely pleasing recording partnerships with Jimmy Raney and with fellow alto saxophonist Gene Quill.

There were few alto men in 1957 who played with Woods' fire and melodic daring. even in those days, there was no Bird disciple who made more effective use of the Parker tradition than Woods. He has continued to build on that tradition and to introduce even greater passion and lyricism, and in the mid 1970s he is clearly a giant of his instrument. It would be useless to detail Phil's best moments in this collection. He was having a great day, and there is such life, depth, and edge to his playing that he comes near to overwhelming the occasion."

The point was that PW's playing was fine before this session, but he began exhibiting the qualities Ramsey indicated above on a regular basis, rather than intermittently.

But don't trust me, hold a seance and ask Oliver Nelson why he faced death threats from the black musicians in his big band for having a white musician (PW) as star soloist in his  band, and wrote an essay on how Woods was one of the few white musicians who could hold his own with any black player on the scene in the 60s.

Or Dizzy when he featured him in his world-touring big band, as did Quincy Jones; or Hall Overton when he had PW play first alto in the Monk Big Band Concert at Town Hall; or Manny Albam when he featured Woods on all of his albums of the late 50s and 60s; or Gary McFarland when he featured him as a soloist in his live Big Band album; or Kenyon Hopkins when he featured him as a soloist in much of the film music he wrote for The Hustler, Lilith, and other films; or Rob McConnell when he featured him on an album celled 'Woods and Brass'; or the many sessions and concerts with Michel Legrand, where PW got a standing ovation(I was there) at Carnegie Hall for his astounding solo feature on 'You Must Remember Spring'.

Or ask Scooby, one of the members of this board, why he has spent countless hours transcribing many of Woods' solos.

Woods refused to settle into the non-creative role of the non-jazz studio musician,or Broadway show player, and established himself in Europe with albums like The European Rhythm Machine's 'Live at Montreaux' album featuring musicians like Daniel Humair, Gordon Beck and, George Gruntz . When he returned to the US, he was able to play uncompromising jazz for the rest of his life.

Woods refused to let a life ending battle with Emphezyma stop his declared mission as a "Jazz Warrior " and I witnessed him playing Cannonball Adderly's part in the "New Bottles, Old Wine' album in a concert at the Manhattan School of Music, dragging his oxygen tank along with him.

 

 

 

 

I, too, am an admirer of Doug Ramsey's writing, and I respect your views as well, but I don't take Ramsey's views or yours re: pre-'57-8 Woods versus post-'57-8 Woods as gospel, especially because my responses to pre-'57-8 Woods and latter-day Woods are not only divergent but also were FWIW the responses that I had to his playing during those very years  -- having been an admirer of Woods from his first New Jazz recordings up through the likes of the Herbie Mann album Ramsey speaks of (I think Woods the soloist may have reached a peak on Quincy Jones' "This Is How I Feel About Jazz"). But after a certain point (the "A Night at the Half Note" album from '59 that he shares with Zoot Sims and Al Cohn would be a good example), while Woods always remained a formidable executant and a topnotch section leader when placed in that role, for me his solo work often came to be marked by a rather jazzy "hotness" -- this by contrast with the almost Benny Carter-like shapeliness of much of his pre-'57-'58 solo work. Also, again IMO, while obviously indebted to Bird in some respects, pre-'57-8 Woods was nowhere near as Parker-like as any number of his contemporaries were, e.g. his friend and frequent musical partner Gene Quill. 

BTW, I believe that all of Woods' recordings with the Gillespie band were made in June 1956, before the shift in his style that I have in mind took place. Yes, Oliver Nelson admired Woods' playing and stuck to his guns on him when threatened. But while that story is a testament to Nelson's character, I don't see why it should in itself change my view of latter-day Woods.

Does the fact that Duke Ellington disparaged the music of Jelly Roll Morton render Morton's music valueless? About to turn 76, and with some 64 years of listening behind me, I'll have to trust myself here.

P.S. A story I'm sure I've told before. At some point in the 1980s Woods' then-current quartet came to Rick's Cafe Americain in Chicago. Braced for the sort of jazz carnival performance I'd come to expect from him, I heard instead some of most relaxed and lucid music I'd encountered from Woods in many years. Boy, I thought -- a real breakthrough. Then, after the first set, Woods explained to the crowd that the band had been the victim of several delayed flights that had left them sleep-deprived and pretty much exhausted, but we should all stick around because they were going to get it together. The second set was all bells and whistles.

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3 hours ago, sgcim said:

I witnessed him playing Cannonball Adderly's part in the "New Bottles, Old Wine' album in a concert at the Manhattan School of Music, dragging his oxygen tank along with him.

That's a :Lenny Bruce bit, right?

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5 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

I, too, am an admirer of Doug Ramsey's writing, and I respect your views as well, but I don't take Ramsey's views or yours re: pre-'57-8 Woods versus post-'57-8 Woods as gospel, especially because my responses to pre-'57-8 Woods and latter-day Woods are not only divergent but also were FWIW the responses that I had to his playing during those very years  -- having been an admirer of Woods from his first New Jazz recordings up through the likes of the Herbie Mann album Ramsey speaks of (I think Woods the soloist may have reached a peak on Quincy Jones' "This Is How I Feel About Jazz"). But after a certain point (the "A Night at the Half Note" album from '59 that he shares with Zoot Sims and Al Cohn would be a good example), while Woods always remained a formidable executant and a topnotch section leader when placed in that role, for me his solo work often came to be marked by a rather jazzy "hotness" -- this by contrast with the almost Benny Carter-like shapeliness of much of his pre-'57-'58 solo work. Also, again IMO, while obviously indebted to Bird in some respects, pre-'57-8 Woods was nowhere near as Parker-like as any number of his contemporaries were, e.g. his friend and frequent musical partner Gene Quill. 

BTW, I believe that all of Woods' recordings with the Gillespie band were made in June 1956, before the shift in his style that I have in mind took place. Yes, Oliver Nelson admired Woods' playing and stuck to his guns on him when threatened. But while that story is a testament to Nelson's character, I don't see why it should in itself change my view of latter-day Woods.

Does the fact that Duke Ellington disparaged the music of Jelly Roll Morton render Morton's music valueless? About to turn 76, and with some 64 years of listening behind me, I'll have to trust myself here.

P.S. A story I'm sure I've told before. At some point in the 1980s Woods' then-current quartet came to Rick's Cafe Americain in Chicago. Braced for the sort of jazz carnival performance I'd come to expect from him, I heard instead some of most relaxed and lucid music I'd encountered from Woods in many years. Boy, I thought -- a real breakthrough. Then, after the first set, Woods explained to the crowd that the band had been the victim of several delayed flights that had left them sleep-deprived and pretty much exhausted, but we should all stick around because they were going to get it together. The second set was all bells and whistles.

I told one of the sax players I played with tonight what you said about Phil's playing after 1957-58. I chose this sax player, because he's the most calm, relaxed, nicest guy in the big band, and I've never heard him say a bad word about anyone in all the years I've known him. His reply was: "He's nuts."

Phil played with Oliver Nelson post-1957-58, at least when ON featured him with the Jazz Interactions Orchestra in NYC. So did Gary McFarland, Michel Legrand (he featured PW on a piece he wrote for him that lasted an entire side of the record they made together called 'Images'), Kenyon Hopkins, Gunther Schuller, and on and on... His discography is seemingly endless.

If you want relaxed playing, go to Getz or Desmond. PW played like his personality, which was anything but relaxed. The first time I met him, an obnoxious friend of mine had been bothering him during his break at a concert he gave at the short-lived NYC Jazz Museum. When my friend told me he was going to introduce me to PW, I reluctantly walked into his little makeshift dressing room, and PW greeted me with, 'Get the f--- outta here!", and threw a beer can in my general direction.

Edited by sgcim

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You're lucky it was a beer can and not an oxygen tank...timing is everything!

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13 hours ago, sgcim said:

I told one of the sax players I played with tonight what you said about Phil's playing after 1957-58. I chose this sax player, because he's the most calm, relaxed, nicest guy in the big band, and I've never heard him say a bad word about anyone in all the years I've known him. His reply was: "He's nuts."

Phil played with Oliver Nelson post-1957-58, at least when ON featured him with the Jazz Interactions Orchestra in NYC. So did Gary McFarland, Michel Legrand (he featured PW on a piece he wrote for him that lasted an entire side of the record they made together called 'Images'), Kenyon Hopkins, Gunther Schuller, and on and on... His discography is seemingly endless.

If you want relaxed playing, go to Getz or Desmond. PW played like his personality, which was anything but relaxed. The first time I met him, an obnoxious friend of mine had been bothering him during his break at a concert he gave at the short-lived NYC Jazz Museum. When my friend told me he was going to introduce me to PW, I reluctantly walked into his little makeshift dressing room, and PW greeted me with, 'Get the f--- outta here!", and threw a beer can in my general direction.

I know I'm in a minority on latter-day Woods; I wouldn't have gone on like this otherwise -- although I do know other people, veteran listeners and some musicians, too, who feel much the same way about latter-day Woods as I do. That doesn't make us right, any more than the testimony of your sax player colleague and the other professional admirers of Woods you've cited makes me nuts. Again, see Ellington on Jelly Roll Morton. And I do know when Woods played with Nelson, McFarland, LeGrand et al.

BTW, do you agree with me, in accord with what you quoted from Doug Ramsey, that Woods underwent/embarked upon a significant style change/shift c. '57-58? If so, how would you characterize his earlier style, of which a good deal of recorded evidence exists, and what do you think of it? I find virtues in that earlier style -- I wouldn't call it "relaxed" but rather exceptionally lucid and shapely, kind of cross between Bird and Benny Carter and uniquely so (hear Woods' exceptional song-in-itself solo on  "A Sleepin' Bee" from Quincy Jones' "This Is How I Feel About Jazz") -- that I no longer find much if at all in latter-day Woods, except in some ballad performances. In any case, perhaps we should call a halt to this now.

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1 hour ago, Larry Kart said:

I know I'm in a minority on latter-day Woods; I wouldn't have gone on like this otherwise -- although I do know other people, veteran listeners and some musicians, too, who feel much the same way about latter-day Woods as I do.

Put me in that camp, although my "turn date" is somewhere after he came back to the US, maybe with Musique Du Bois (the band excels, almost enough to obliterate the impending....whatever) and then the RCA and beyond stuff. Before that, hey, I'm usually in for him as a soloist, and always as a lead player. That European Rhythm Machine band was no bullshit! 

I gotta think that the "failed" period in L.A. where he had that crazy electric group with Pete Robinson turned him into some point-of-no-return sour. The Testament album has his commentary in the liner notes, and it is not "warm and fuzzy", focusing almost entirely on how poorly received the band was by the critics, Leonard Feather in particular. It seems to have left wounds, and I do find that most of the rest of his career, he continued to play at the same high level technically, but it just seemed...peeved at live in general. I could say bitter, maybe? Helluva a player, a consummate craftsman, and who really cared?

otoh, the Testament album (which really should be heard by anybody who might have even half an interest) kinda sounds like Woods is getting passed by, "fashion"-wise, and knows it. He's electrified as hell, but Pete Robinson is playing the electronics, and Woods is still playing the same thing he played acoustically. I give him credit for going for the burn, but between the "popular reception" and at some point asking himself wtf he was trying to do with his life and his music, what was he going to do going forward, and I think he just kind of burnt up and then out. That was when he started playing all the "bells and whistles" that Larry referenced.

I get that not everybody sensed the unpleasantness of the difference, but I sure did, and strongly. He went from somebody I was usually happy to hear to somebody I tried to avoid whenever possible.

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4 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

I know I'm in a minority on latter-day Woods; I wouldn't have gone on like this otherwise -- although I do know other people, veteran listeners and some musicians, too, who feel much the same way about latter-day Woods as I do. That doesn't make us right, any more than the testimony of your sax player colleague and the other professional admirers of Woods you've cited makes me nuts. Again, see Ellington on Jelly Roll Morton. And I do know when Woods played with Nelson, McFarland, LeGrand et al.

BTW, do you agree with me, in accord with what you quoted from Doug Ramsey, that Woods underwent/embarked upon a significant style change/shift c. '57-58? If so, how would you characterize his earlier style, of which a good deal of recorded evidence exists, and what do you think of it? I find virtues in that earlier style -- I wouldn't call it "relaxed" but rather exceptionally lucid and shapely, kind of cross between Bird and Benny Carter and uniquely so (hear Woods' exceptional song-in-itself solo on  "A Sleepin' Bee" from Quincy Jones' "This Is How I Feel About Jazz") -- that I no longer find much if at all in latter-day Woods, except in some ballad performances. In any case, perhaps we should call a halt to this now.

Woods had a deep admiration for Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges when he was studying with a private teacher as a kid. His teacher would bring him transcriptions of both Carter and Hodges, which he ate up, so his early period sounded like a guy trying to imitate Carter and Bird. I've never been crazy about Carter's playing (too much vibrato and dotted 8th 16th note rhythms), so that might account for my preference of his breakthrough playing from 1957 onwards.

BTW, I didn't mean any criticism of you in my quote from my sax player friend; I just wanted to point out the general admiration that most sax players have for Woods. I remember one time asking Aaron Sachs what he thought of PW. He looked at me astonished, saying that, "Of course PW is at the very highest level of musicality in the jazz world", and then told me that he had the honor of playing in some rehearsal bands with PW in NYC.

Again, I realize as you pointed out, that most aspects of music are subjective, and your informed view on PW is just as valid as  mine, Ramsey's or my sax player friend's, but on the few aspects of music that are objective, most people (even Sangrey!) agree that PW was a master.

 

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3 hours ago, JSngry said:

Put me in that camp, although my "turn date" is somewhere after he came back to the US, maybe with Musique Du Bois (the band excels, almost enough to obliterate the impending....whatever) and then the RCA and beyond stuff. Before that, hey, I'm usually in for him as a soloist, and always as a lead player. That European Rhythm Machine band was no bullshit! 

I gotta think that the "failed" period in L.A. where he had that crazy electric group with Pete Robinson turned him into some point-of-no-return sour. The Testament album has his commentary in the liner notes, and it is not "warm and fuzzy", focusing almost entirely on how poorly received the band was by the critics, Leonard Feather in particular. It seems to have left wounds, and I do find that most of the rest of his career, he continued to play at the same high level technically, but it just seemed...peeved at live in general. I could say bitter, maybe? Helluva a player, a consummate craftsman, and who really cared?

otoh, the Testament album (which really should be heard by anybody who might have even half an interest) kinda sounds like Woods is getting passed by, "fashion"-wise, and knows it. He's electrified as hell, but Pete Robinson is playing the electronics, and Woods is still playing the same thing he played acoustically. I give him credit for going for the burn, but between the "popular reception" and at some point asking himself wtf he was trying to do with his life and his music, what was he going to do going forward, and I think he just kind of burnt up and then out. That was when he started playing all the "bells and whistles" that Larry referenced.

I get that not everybody sensed the unpleasantness of the difference, but I sure did, and strongly. He went from somebody I was usually happy to hear to somebody I tried to avoid whenever possible.

Woods said to one of his students that Musique Du Bois never got off the page, so I'd put the blame on the band rather than the leader. It was that record that convinced him he needed a steady working band, and he kept his rhythm section of Gilmore and Goodwin together for over 35 years.

Just by the cover of Testament (wtf, a headband, shoulder-length hair!!!), I know I don't wanna hear it, but I think it was re-issued as 'Chromatic Banana' a total POS that a friend bought back in HS, and we used to make fun of it every time he put it on.

The failed period in LA probably did do a number on his head, but he was always known to drink, or as Wayne Wright (who went on the road with him) said, "He just 'sinned', in general".

 He had a rep for being a wild dude even back when he was part of the Benny Goodman band that made the historic trip to the USSR, where he responded to BG's 'ray' by being caught by BG at a drunken party yelling out, "The King (of Swing), expletives.

Some older dudes that knew him back in the 50s said that he and Quill used to get wasted, and start picking fights in bars.  Quill's life was pretty much ended by an incident like that in Atlantic City...

IMHO, I think the Emphyzema was the cause of his musical slide. Ironically, as his playing declined towards the end, he started getting 'warm and fuzzy' as a person.

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The Testament record is really interesting. I think the band is more organic to the music than the leader, but I love it because he was trying, he wanted to go there, the whole electric/out thing. But it also sounds like his reach was exceeding his grasp, is that the expression? But hey - Pete Robinson, Henry Franklin, and Bryan Moffatt, this was not a band of coasters, these guys dealt. And I think that's what Woods wanted, cats who dealt.

No matter, it's excellent Blindfold Test material, becuase until Woods start playing, you'd never guess it was him, and even then, you might not be too sure about that.

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Of the "latter" Woods, I think he makes formidable (to my ears) contributions to Monk's Big Band and Quartet in Concert and Gil Evans The Individualism of... (his solo on "Spoonful", alongside - as on the Monk's record - Thad Jones). 

Edited by Simon8

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His 1972 Pierre Cardin LP. is the only occasion I’ve heard Wood’s playing and thought wow!!! 

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Woods' solo on Quincy Jones's recording of "A Sleepin' Bee" -- Mingus bass, Art Farmer trumpet. Woods' solo on "Walkin'" from the same album is another gem -- a virtual composition in itself.
 

 

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2 hours ago, sgcim said:

Just by the cover of Testament (wtf, a headband, shoulder-length hair!!!), I know I don't wanna hear it, but I think it was re-issued as 'Chromatic Banana' a total POS that a friend bought back in HS, and we used to make fun of it every time he put it on.

 

Not the same record (had to look it up to be sure). That one's by The European Rhythm Machine, 1970, but is not the 1972 "Pierre Cardin" record mentioned by Clunky although it is on the same label. I think so, anyway, see if it is: https://www.discogs.com/Phil-Woods-Chromatic-Banana/release/3012769

I like that band, always have.

The Testament band pretty much takes up where this one leaves off, with a lot, a LOT, of electronics, including Woods himself. This was Pete Robinson't wheelhouse (and afaik, nobody's yet to come with a coherent logical look at all the things that were going on around the Don Ellis orb of the late 60s/early 70s, thee sure seems to be a story there jsut waiting to be told), and coming home from the ERM to a band like that was a totally logical next step, and believe me, I love that the guy went there with that. But it...just didn't work out the way i guess he had hoped it would, maybe his Pet Sounds or The Secret Life Of Plants, one of those projects where the sting of public indifference (at best...) leaves a sting that never really subsides.

 

 

 

 

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Which reminds me...did he do Round Trip before or after moving? That's enough of a a shitsuck (albeit it a somewhat exquisite shitsuck in the calssic Verve MOR bag) to make even George M. Cohan consider repatriating. Nothing against Johnny Pate, but, you know, if the guy was already dark about America and/or Jazz, I can see how that might have pushed him over the edge. Irony being, that, after he came back, records like this - "special settings for the artistry of..." were applauded when he made them, and you know, that probably just made the darkness get that much darker.

Where are the happy people in this? Note the Exit sign, I think that syas it all.

03503649-c837-4138-9eb8-85164642b89d.jpg

Great band, fine charts, but dude, the guy went to Paris and afaik did nothing even remotely like this the whole time he was there, and he easily could have. Then he came back, tried to keep going and got a resound NO GIGS FOR YOU! I mean, yeah, the guy was an old-school soldier, trained to read and double and just play any fucking gig the way it should be played and keep your feeling to yourself, at least during the gig, but like many soldiers, he had some itches that needed to be scratched, and, it's just my guess, that he gave up trying to scratch them when people started asking him why he was playing with himself, and really, all it was was that it itched, and if you don't scratch an itch, it fucks you up one way or another. So he went with another.

 

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Yeah, he made some lousy albums in his time. I'm glad I never heard the Testament album if it's worse than Chromatic effing Banana!

I liked his double-time, long lines on the bridge to the title song of Round Trip, but other than that, there wasn't much there.

He even did an album called Greek Cooking which I never got anything out of, but maybe people who like Greek music liked it. One thing that held him back was that he never was able to play the flute, probably because he was such a natural on the alto.

In the end, the work with Michel Legrand was the big break that ignited his career. He was so well known by the late 70s, my ex GF called me up out of nowhere to go to a PW concert at a local college. It was packed, and the people went nuts over the group. From then on, he had it made.

 

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Flute, no. But he was old-school in the sense of playing clarinet first, an old tact. And I loved how when they made that Jazz Mission To Moscow album, he made it a point to play clarinet, sort of a post-mortem shot at Benny.

I avoided the Greek album for a long time, thinking it was going to be some pseudo-Zorba schlock. Finally got around to it and was very pleasantly surprised by the lack of gimmick. Also thought that the basic "hotness" of the Greek music was good for Woods, he played very nicely on that one, imo.

Not sure what inspired that album, though, just heard a blogged version of it, never saw any liner notes. But, back in those days, anyway, if you lived in and around NYC and played gigs there was ample opportunity for the various immigrant populations to have their things being amply giggable, which means that people get to know other people, and you what happens once that starts happening! FUSION!!! :g

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There was also a story about some company supplying BG with a new mouthpiece to test out sometime during the tour, and PW slipping a busted second joint on BG's clarinet while he was getting the new mouthpiece from the company's rep.

When Benny tried out the mouthpiece with the band, he was messing up all over the place, and he thought it was the new mouthpiece!

I don't think Phil started out with the clarinet; he just used it to get into Julliard, because they weren't taking sax majors back then. The old story he told a million times was that he inherited an alto when his uncle passed away, and he was trying to melt it down to use it to make toy soldiers, when his mother made him take sax lessons. He turned out to be, in his words, "a natural".

I went to a clinic that he gave in Brooklyn at a college that mainly consisted of inner city kids, who weren't too proficient on their instruments. It turned out to be pretty hilarious, with the kids unable to play any of the tunes he wanted them to play. He finally got fed up with the rhythm section in the middle of one song ('Laura') that someone from the audience requested, and put down his new Yamaha, and took over on the piano, calling out the changes to the bass player and pianist. He tried playing it on sax again, but the kids kept screwing up the changes, and he wound up playing the whole song on piano, still calling out the changes.

They had a Q and A with the audience, and I stepped up to the mic and asked him what he thought of Eddie Costa. He was visibly startled by the question, and started to say something like, "What the hell would you ask-", but then regained his composure and said, "Good pianist, first call on vibes".

I then followed up with, "Are you ever gonna put out a book of transcriptions of your solos? I heard there were a few attempts..."

This time he was visibly annoyed with the question, and he gave me a dirty look and said, " Yes, there were as you said, a few 'attempts' at putting out a book of my solos, and NO, there's never gonna be a book of my solos!"

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Posting this as a public service for the kids whose cable never got the Colpix Network.

 

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What all kinds of writing did Billy Ver Planck do through the years? I'm hearing his charts on two Houston Person albums and kinda liking what I'm hearing..treating "pop songs" like songs, not just pop, pretty musical, actually. Did he do a lot of stuff for Prestige, or what exactly, how did the guy make his living in music?

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Posted (edited)

A look at the Lord Disco tells he did two other dates for Prestige Sonny Stitt's "Goin' Down Slow", and Leon Spencer's "Bad Walkin' Woman", wrote charts for others like Etta Jones (Westbound). Later he wrote many albums for his wife, singer Marlene VerPlanck (née Paul). His career started in 1952 as trombonist for Jimmy Dorsey and Claude Thornhill.

Edited by mikeweil

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