|In one of the last performances by the Phil Woods Quartet before the departure of pianist Mike Melillo, this 1½-hour-plus concert finds the group at a creative peak. Woods isn't shy about stretching tunes out to explore every possibility with several long tracks; Lars Gullin's "Silhouette," a piece not likely familiar to many jazz fans, is a brilliant melancholy piece, with Woods' alto sax occasionally mimicking an accordion. "Rain Go Away" is a cheerful uptempo original by the leader, while his version of Joe Henderson's "Isotope" features a long introduction by drummer Bill Goodwin that sets the band afire. The only predictable part of the program is the almost obligatory beg-off performance of "Phil's Theme" (aka "How's Your Mama?"); listeners are then rewarded with an encore of Alec Wilder's delightful (but not often heard) "Trouble Is a Man." An enjoyable evening of hard bop by one of its true masters.
4 Stars - Very Good - ...He takes an intense, unsentimental approach to the ballads that dominate the program, alternating eely bop lines with expressive cries, but on Joe Henderson's 'Isotope,' he heads for the ozone, etching furiously acidic figures over Melillo's fractured chords.
Down Beat (01/01/1996)