Phil Woods & His European Rhythm Machine was a brilliant though short-lived quartet that made a handful of albums between 1968 and 1973, though most of them are long out of print. Happily, this early studio effort, with pianist George Gruntz, bassist Henri Texier, and drummer Daniel Humair, has been reissued in Japan by Toshiba-EMI, all of whom provide first-rate rhythmic support and make the most of their solos. The leader's "And When We Are Young" was written in tribute to Senator Robert Kennedy, who was gunned down by a cowardly assassin in the spring of 1968 in the midst of Kennedy's celebration of his presidential primary victory in California. The piece begins with a mournful dirge before cutting loose with some wailing post-bop.
The jazz tones here are mighty nice — on a record that sparkles with some of Buddy DeFranco's best music ever ! As with other Verve dates from the time, this DeFranco outing's got a rhythmic pulse that really gets things going — a sense of swing that's nice and lean, but quite powerful too — pushing Buddy past any cliched clarinet modes of the 50s, into a realm that really unlocks new sax-like sounds in his horn! The piano has a lot to do with the record – played here by either Kenny Drew or Sonny Clark — with bass from Milt Hinton or Gene Wright, and drums from Art Blakey and Bobby White.
Sonny Stitt goes Latin – and the results are tremendous! The set's still got all the soulful feel of the best Stitt sessions for Roost, but it brings in some nice Latin rhythms too – inflecting things with that blend of soul jazz and congas you might find over at Prestige or Blue Note, yet also taking things further, too – given the Roost/Roulette connection to the New York Latin scene! Sonny plays both alto and tenor, and gets jazzy accompaniment from Thad Jones on trumpet – but the rhythm section is the real charmer here – and features a young Chick Corea on piano, Larry Gales on bass, and the trio of Willie Bobo, Patato Valdes, and Chihuaua Martinez on percussion! Most tunes are originals – a great change from the usual Latinized standards you might find on a set like this – and Stitt's got this nicely exotic tone in his reeds which is a further highlight of the record – almost a Yusef Lateef inflection at points.
Within a refined setting of easy listening pop ballads and lightly funky up-tempo selections produced by Al McKay, Henderson proves himself an assured vocalist with mastery of clarity and phrasing. The problem here is the material isn't challenging enough – it's often formulaic and derivative of other early-'80s releases. Even a contribution from Stevie Wonder, "Crush on You," wanders into oblivion. But the singer's debonair tone and elegant, polished diction makes the weaker sound stronger. A perfect example is the mid-tempo "I'd Rather Be Gone," which suffers from a sleepy melody and clichéd rhythm arrangement.
‘Ichigo Ichie’: “Treasure every encounter for it will never recur.” Two hours of live Camel from the tour no one thought would ever happen! ‘Ichigo Ichie’ was recorded in Tokyo at the Ex-Theatre in Roppongi during May 2016, the line-up of this event was: Andrew Latimer (guitars / vocals / flute / recorder), Colin Bass (bass / vocals), Denis Clement (drums / recorder) and new member Peter Jones from Tiger Moth Tales (keyboards / vocals / penny whistle). Released on 25th January 2017.