Jazz masters Herbie Mann and Phil Woods recorded together for the first time in nearly 50 years. The result of that long-overdue reunion of two jazz masters is Beyond Brooklyn (MCG Jazz 1012), an MCG Jazz album of new arrangements and original pieces that reflect both artists’ affinity for different styles of jazz, including tango, bossa nova, ballads and bebop. Together, Mann and Woods represent more than 100 years of collective performing experience.
This album was inspired by a collaboration arranged by Marty Ashby, Executive Producer of MCG Jazz, for the 15th anniversary of the MCG Jazz subscription series for live jazz at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG) in Pittsburgh, PA. Mann and Woods performed for the anniversary concerts, which sparked fond memories of the last time they had recorded together. Six months later, the pair returned to MCG to record.
Mann’s and Woods’ musical relationship began when they started playing together in 1951, in a "joint" called Tony’s Bar on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. If you played well, "Tony would have a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine for you," Woods recalls. "Herbie and I always got fed." It was at Tony’s Bar that Mann and Woods began to experiment with extended use of modal harmony by playing songs such as "Bohemia After Dark," composed by Oscar Pettiford during that time period. Beyond Brooklyn tells the story of where Mann and Woods have gone musically since that time in Brooklyn, both apart and together.
Beyond Brooklyn includes original pieces such as Woods’ "Alvin G." and Mann’s "Another Shade Of Blues" and "Sir Charles Duke" alongside jazz standards like "We Will Meet Again" by Bill Evans and "Blood Count" by Billy Strayhorn. The album features two different rhythm sections, which allows for a wide range of musicals styles, from the bebop flavor of "Au Privave" to an obscure Hungarian folk song entitled "Jelek" ("Signs"). For a touch of Brazil, Beyond Brooklyn includes "Caminhos Cruzados," a beautiful bossa nova composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim. The final track, "Time After Time" was recorded at Glen Campbell’s home studio in Phoenix just weeks before Mann passed away on July 1, 2003. Although Mann and the producers had gathered there only to make a few minor changes to the original tracks, Mann decided he wanted to record a whole new song for his wife Janeal – which turned out to be the last song he ever recorded. Even though Mann was very ill at this point, there is a vibrant, courageous and loving sound on "Time After Time" that is reminiscent of the Herbie Mann of thirty years ago.
Beyond Brooklyn is dedicated to the spirit and music of Herbie Mann (1930-2003).