Beyond Brooklyn, the angle presented by jazz masters Herbie Mann and Phil Woods, exemplifies that diversity.
The opening number, Bill Evans’ We Will Meet Again, is a mellow, bossa nova composition that has Mann and Woods trading leads. That’s followed by Woods’ own Alvin G. , a swinging presentation of old-school jazz.
The musical relationship between Mann the flutist and Woods the saxophonist began when they started playing together in 1951, in a joint called Tony’s Bar on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, N.Y. It was there that the duo began experimenting with extended use of modal harmony by playing such songs as Bohemia After Dark.
Beyond Brooklyn tells the story of where Mann and Woods have gone musically since those days on Flatbush Avenue.
The charming, romantic Azure, penned by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills, features beautiful leads by Mann and Woods, as well as deft drum and bass work by Paul Socolov and Ricky Sebastian, and a nice trombone solo by Jay Ashby. Things heat up with Oscar Pettiford’s Bohemia After Dark, a straight-ahead romp into a nocturnal playground. The ensemble changes angles again with Caminhos Cruzados, penned by prolific Brazilian songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim. It’s an easygoing cruise down Mann and Woods’ memory lane.
And just like that, they up crank it up again. "One, two, Roger’s got it" is the opening for Charlie Parker’s Au Privave, which features a sizzling intro by drummer Roger Humphries. With accordionist Gil Goldstein joining, the ensemble treats us to Another Shade of the Blues, a Mann original that successfully blends straight jazz, bossa nova and European styles into a jazz symphony. The mood is similar with the elegant Sir Charles Duke, another Mann original. Jelek follows with an old, smoke-filled nightclub sound.
Woods takes point on the laid-back Blood Count, by Billy Strayhorn. Woods leads again on Little Niles.Beyond Brooklyn closes in trio form with Time After Time, featuring Mann, guitarist Marty Ashby and percussionist Jay Ashby, who also lends a vocal chant. This track was recorded at Glen Campbell’s home studio in Phoenix, just weeks before Mann’s death. The artists had gathered there to make a few minor changes to the original tracks, when Mann wanted to add one more song for his wife, Janeal. It turned out to be the last song he ever recorded.
Appropriately, this elegant number adds the finishing touch to a sensational album.