Monday, April 25, 2011

Grace Kelly - Phil Woods: Man With The Hat

I sleep a little better knowing this lady is playing the instrument I love so well. Bird, Rabbit and Mr. Carter would be equally pleased I am certain (Quote: Phil Woods)
Hans Koert

Grace Kelly - Phil Woods: Man with The Hat (English) Grace Kelly - Phil Woods: De man met de pet (Nederlands)

Recently the young talented alto saxophone playerng> Grace Kelly released her latest album, entitled Man With The Hat. A rather puzzling title, but if you have had the opportunity to study the line-up of her sextet, I guess you'll know who's that man with the hat. The Grace Kelly Quintet features: Phil Woods alto saxophone - Monty Alexander piano - Evan Gregor double bass - Bill Goodwin drums and Jordan Perlson percussion.

Grace Kelly ( photo courtesy Jimmy Katz)
I heard Phil Woods in concert July 2003 at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague with the Bud Shank Quartet and I remember that I was sitting in expectation of things to come. Suddenly I saw him, with his inevitable cap, walking to the concert hall with his alto under his arm. A great moment ! ( Quote Hans Koert:
Phil Woods )

The album ( photo courtesy: Jimmy Katz)

Born as Grace Chung, May 1992, she got the name of Grace Kelly thanks to her stepfather Bob Kelly and her name has no relations what-so-ever to that other Grace Kelly, the well known actor, who became the wife of the Monegasque prince Rainier. As a kid she played the piano and at the age of ten she started to learn the clarinet but soon after that, she took up the alto saxophone, fascinated as she was by the music of tenor saxophonist Stan Getz - the music she heard during Sundays brunches. I started playing the sax because of Stan Getz and the tenor adds to my goal of creating different colours and moods.
Phil Woods and Grace Kelly ( photo courtesy: Jimmy Katz)
She turned out to be a natural talent. Aged 12 years old (!) she made her first albums, entitled Dreaming. She still remembers the moment when she walked on stage .... I realized that performing was my favourite thing to do. During the next decade up to now she played with great names like Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick, Frank Morgan
and piano player Marian McPartland. She recorded with the great alto saxophone player Lee Konitz, who supported her some years. Phil Woods remembers the first time he heard her playing, 14-years young: Lee Konitz had told me about her. but I was still amazed. And since then her progress has been astounding! I was so impressed I presented her with one of my caps. Grace was absolutely delighted with his worn cap: It was the first time that this living legend removed his iconic leather cap and place it on her head - the first time he'd ever made such a gesture to a fellow alto saxophonist. I look at this hat that he's worn on his album covers for the last fifty years (!) and it's really well worn, and now he has a brand new one. It's really a special memory. Phil adapted the leather cap as his trademark in 1976.

Grace Kelly ( photo courtesy: Jimmy Katz)
Last year both saxophone players met at the Red Rock Recording Studio in Saylorsburg PA (USA) to make this record Man With The Hat, with no one less than Monty Alexander at the piano.
Monty is one of the legends at the piano I love to hear. He said about Grace:
She is one of the most gifted, deeply musical, charismatic, and delightful musicians I have ever known in all my years in the world of jazz - and she is truly humble.

Monty Alexander ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)
The album contains seven track, most standards, like Benny Carter's People Time, The Way You Look Tonight, and the less known Billy Strayhorn Ballad For Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus-Eaters. Man With The Hat is a Grace Kelly composition, she wrote as an honour to Phil Woods of course. It contains a great duet with Phil Woods in which Dan Morgenstern (he wrote the liner notes) recognizes some influences of Benny Carter, but ... she has her own sound, and her own way of phasing-unlike many young and gifted musicians, she does not, even at this still early stage, reveal any obvious stylistic models. A great composition. Grace also sings, in tunes like her own composition Gone and People Time. She has a pretty voice.
The tune Every Time We Say Goodbye, a Cole Porter composition, is a duet between Grace on the alto saxophone and Evan Gregor on bass violin. It starts with an unison bowed bass - sax intro .... One of the tunes I liked most was the final one, the well known Jerome Kern composition The Way You Look Tonight, played in up-tempo by Grace Kelly and her Quartet ( Phil Woods omited) which shows what a great saxophone player Grace is and Monty surprises with one of his typically piano solos, which opens with a free Erroll Garner styled intro, before it starts into swing .......... Great stuff.
The well-designed cover ( Courtesy: David Greenberg)
There might be another reason to obtain a hard copy of this disc - it's the beautiful designed and informative digi-pack, with a great layout by David Greenberg. It has some nice finds like the liner notes by Dan Morgenstern who start in big letters inside the digi-pack and continuou, right in the middle of a sentence, in the booklet inside ...........

This album can be obtained at Grace Kelly's website.

Hans Koert

I heard Phil Woods in concert July 2003 at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague with the Bud Shank Quartet and I remember that I was sitting in expectation of things to come. Suddenly I saw him, with his inevitable cap, walking to the concert hall with his alto under his arm. A great moment! Phil Woods, the legendary Man With The Hat, took the young gifted alto saxophone player Grace Kelly to his heart and gave her one of his inseparable caps. Grace (18) and Phil (80) are now recorded together on a great album, entitled The Man With The Hat. The Keep Swinging blog was impressed to hear this young gifted talented saxophonist performing, together with this legend with the hat. Als je niets wilt missen, volg haar dan via Twitter of vraag de gratis nieuwsbrief.

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