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.
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.