Phil Woods Alto Summit (1968)

Selected Track: Native Land


Lee Konitz, Pony Poindexter, Phil Woods, Leo Wright (as) Steve Kuhn (p) Palle Danielsson (b) Jon Christensen (d) recorded at Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer Studio, Villingen, West Germany, June 2 & 3, 1968

Phil Woods is one of the finest exponents of the alto, along side Lee Konitz. Down Beat magazine awarded him the New Star Award back in 1956 and he was their Critics Poll winner for alto for virtually every year since 1975 right up to receiving  “Living Legends of Jazz” award 2007, anticipating Rollins award this year. The emphasis, of course, is on the word Living, an increasingly small band.


Four different voices on the same instrument, each with a different approach to improvisation, different attack, different balance of funk and adventurous exploration.With Alto Summit you are reminded of the distinctiveness of each player’s voice on the “Devil’s Horn” as someone dubbed the saxophone.

I enjoy the Native Land  track particularly for Jon Christensen’s percussion, dark and insistent time-keeping maintained on the cymbals while the altoists run through the changes.


Recorded in Germany, I have the Prestige US issue shown here, the UK release, and the original German MPS release. Last time I listened the original German MPS was the superior pressing of the three. Vorsprung durch Technik.  It is not often you have the opportunity to compare directly tthe quality of pressing, as the tapes of origin will certainly be the same.

The runout suggests it was a whacky day in the record plant that day, with various initials and cryptic codes engraved in it. At a future date I might line up the three to see if they have any interesting story to tell.


Collectors Corner

Different sources for the three copies, including ebay and the new arrivals bin in second-hand stores. Not valued as a hugely collectible record, but hugely enjoyable alto madness.

5 thoughts on “Phil Woods Alto Summit (1968)

  1. I like Phil Woods, ever since I saw him at the 1988 Warsaw Jazz Festival, he gave a very good performance…unlike Miles Davis I’m afraid to say, who spent his entire set with his back turned away from the audience and refused to do an encore despite 8,000 Poles clapping, stomping and shouting his name for thirty minutes after he’d finished.

    So much for one’s hero’s.

    • May be our hero’s are best left back there in the past where they belong. Herbie Hancock I saw the other year and it was embarrassing. John McLaughlin I used to go and see in the heady Seventies – saw him last year, also painful. Quite a few haven’t died young like rest. I blame clean living myself. Has a lot to answer for.

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