[JPL] Phil Woods: A soldier for jazz

Doug Crane dcrane at comcast.net
Tue Oct 17 02:39:36 EDT 2006


I think you mean guitarist Harry Leahey and pianist Mike 
Melillo.  Harry passed away some years ago and I believe Mike Melillo 
relocated to Italy.  I seem to recall seeing listings for a couple of 
Melillo dates for an Italian label, either Red or Soul Note but I 
can't remember which.

Even though Phil has had nothing but incredible pianists come through 
his bands (Galper/McNeely/Charlap/others?), I've always found the 
recordings with Mike Melillo very special.  His touch and especially 
his sound are very unique.  It's simultaneously light and strong 
reminding me for some reason of cherries.  One can really hear the 
"wood" of the piano.  And to reference the guitar/piano debate of a 
couple of weeks ago, I'd say that Melillo's comping style and choice 
of voicings might be more similar to what one might hear from a 
guitarist as opposed to a pianist.

One of my favorite Phil Woods' albums is a very obscure release on 
RCA/Gryphon from 1976 simply entitled "The New Phil Woods Album".  It 
was listed in RCA's catalog for no more than two years (if that long) 
and to my knowledge has never been re-issued on CD.  I bought my copy 
of this LP within days of hearing it on Harry Abraham's "The Best of 
All Possible Worlds" on WHAM Rochester via my vintage 1938 RCA Victor 
table radio.  Tables must have been bigger back then...

One morning in late 1977 I turned on my FM radio to a rock station 
when, lo and behold, I heard the unmistakable alto sax of Phil Woods 
playing a pretty nice solo.  My immediate reaction was has the world 
as I knew it ended?  Rock stations playing Phil Woods?  Well before I 
had much of a chance to ponder those questions, Phil's solo was 
over.  The song was of course Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" 
which I was hearing for the very first (and certainly not the last) time.

If you're looking for some good late 1950's Phil Woods, don't 
overlook Michel Legrand's "Legrand Jazz".

Doug Crane
dcrane at comcast.net
KUVO Denver 89.3 FM
Wednesdays 7-9 PM MDT

At 07:55 PM 10/16/2006, you wrote:

>To celebrate his NEA award and his 75th birthday (b. Nov 2nd, 1931 in
>Springfield, MA.), Jazz from Studio Four will feature the music of Phil
>Woods for the entire four hours of the program. This will all happen on
>Friday, November 3rd, from 8p-midnight.
>I look forward to featuring two WGBH recordings featuring Phil's quintets,
>one from Sandy's Jazz Revival in Beverly, MA in 1977 with Mike Milello on
>guitar and the other from The RegattaBar in Cambridge, made in the mid-1990s
>when Brian Lynch was part of the band.
>Steve Schwartz
>Jazz from Studio Four
>Friday, 8p-midnight
>WGBH, 89.7FM, Boston

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