Track Selection: Woodlore
Phil Woods (as) John Williams (p) Teddy Kotick (b) Nick Stabulas (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, November 25, 1955
Scott Yanow of AllMusic writes: “Woods’ second recording as a leader. Accompanied by a quiet but swinging rhythm section, Woods swings hard with plenty of energy”
This may seem a short review, because I have stripped out all the padding by which reviewers reach the editors required 750 words or whatever. Out goes the repetition of the musicians names and instruments in the line up, the inclusion of each of the song titles and composers, and detail of the differences between the CD and the original. When you get down to it there are no more than about 20 words of significant prose about the music and its context. And he
stole borrowed the “hard swinging” line from Ira Gitler’s liner notes.
So to stretch it out, I’d like to add that I really like Phil Woods. He is among my favourite altoists, along with the slightly more cerebral but less funky Lee Konitz, and that this is a really good record, though I slightly prefer Woods later multi-altoist group outings for their more competitive soloing edge. Nothing like the pressure of three other alto players to push you. Fast? You call that fast? I’ll show you fast (launches into solo while performing a back-flip).
Vinyl: Victor Japan SMJ-6515 Prestige Jazz Masterpiece series, mono. Originally issued as US Prestige 7018 in 1955. Engineer Rudy Van Gelder.
The obi identifies this as a Prestige Jazz Masterpiece Series release, issued 28th February 1976, according to a date at the foot of the Japanese insert. I have seen Blue Note/ King “Masterpiece” Series but never a Prestige Jazz Masterpiece, apart from this one, so it is possibly quite special among Japanese reissues. I can’t read the insert, it’s all Japanese to me, but the dates that pop up in context can give a clue as to its origins, and I can’t see any other purpose for that 1976 date in the footer.
The US original (identical cover to the Japanese) averages a little over $300 USD and maxes at $740 for near mint, according to Popsike. I chased a rare Esquire copy recently but it closed at a whopping $228, to which you can add postage, customs, and customs collection fees in the UK so you would see no change from $300.
Out of interest I checked buyer feedback. You have to get up early nowadays to beat yet another TokyoJazzDealer, who walked off with this and nine other Esquires the other week. (I am assuming he is a dealer as he buys more records in one day on eBay than I buy in three months). Mind you, what a rush having the postman staggering up your path under the weight of all these beauties. Sometimes I feel I should up my game – but somehow don’t think I could match this buyer, who buys nothing but the best collectible jazz, day in day out. Would you ever tire of that?
So here is the story. I buy a Japanese pressing of an American recording here in the UK, at virtually the exact same moment that a UK pressing of the same American recording is bought in Japan. It has a symmetry all of its own, apart from the price, with the Japan Victor copy costing me a little over $20. And it’s a masterpiece. I know it is, because it says so.