Trumpeter Bob Lark is joined by NEA Jazz Master Phil Woods on alto saxophone for an album of bebop jazz recorded live at the famous Jazz Showcase in Chicago. This is the second album on Jazzed Media by trumpeter Bob Lark and alto saxophone great Phil Woods' Quintet. Lark and Woods are joined by Jim McNeely on piano, Steve Gilmore on bass, and Bill Goodwin on drums.
Bob Lark: trumpet
Phil Woods: alto sax
Jim McNeeley: piano
Steve Gilmore: bass
Bill Goodwin: drums
Bob Lark/Phil Woods Quintet: Live at the Jazz Showcase
According to a long-held adage, "Those who can't do, teach."
The fact that so many people subscribe to this nugget of folk wisdom says much about our tendency to prize glitzy action over the fundaments of education. But let's forget all that for the moment. Let's take the old saw at face value, accept it as true, and even heed its admonition about people who lack experience with the subjects they profess. And if we do, Bob Lark becomes the exception that tests the rule.
Lark is one of the hundreds of excellent American jazz musicians who make at least part of their living as educators, but who still continue to perform. (In other words, they can do, as well as teach.) But even among that crowd, Lark stands out - not only for the excellence of the bands he leads at DePaul University in Chicago, but also for his largely underappreciated expertise as an instrumentalist. By day (and plenty of nights) he serves as Dr. Lark, director of DePaul's widely admired Jazz Studies Program; but as you'll hear, he also plays flugelhorn more than well enough to share a stage with one of the greatest improvisers in jazz history, Phil Woods. Throughout this album - the second to feature Lark and Woods in front of Woods's longtime rhythm section - the educator offers cogent lessons in taking a solo. But while Lark may practice what any good instructor should preach, the results are never merely academic: the melodies flow with ease and they swing with fervor, and you can't ask much more than that.
Woods plays with his customary distinction on every tune, and McNeely's solos all but overshadow the harmonic treasures of his comping. As for Lark, he brings to the flugelhorn much of the same cheery bonhomie that Clark Terry - his friend and stylistic mentor - has made his stock in trade. It resides in that sunny sound; the uncomplicated phrasing of simple melodies interspersed with joyous flurries; and an absolutely concrete command of rhythm that leaves no doubt as to where the beat sits, even when Lark dances blithely around it.