Got a nice review for my CD ” 5 4 3 2 1 ” in the Chicago Jazz mag.

By: Dan Healy 

Juli Wood is her name and hard bop is her game. Cheesy opening sentence aside, Wood’s new album 5 4 3 2 1 is so firmly in the 1950s and ‘60s Blue Note aesthetic, one can almost imagine a cover of her (instrument in hand!) with the classic accompanying blue or green tint. Her approach to the saxophone is exciting and refreshing. Like a few others—Don Braden and Tim Warfield immediately come to mind—she blends a more old-fashioned, soulful sound with an acutely modern language.

As if that were not enough, Wood is also a fantastic vocalist. For this album, she assembled a collection of top-notch, hard-bop musicians to perform a collection of standards and originals (five penned by Wood). All the musicians nail the hard-bop aesthetic, particularly Benson, whose stellar organ work brings some of Jimmy Smith’s recordings to mind. Throughout, the stellar musicians perform in various combinations to great effect.

Highlights include Thelonious Monk’s “Light Blue,” where the sextet arrangement is particularly effective and Wood shines on baritone sax. Another is her terrifically melodic original “Pessoa,” as well as her soulful vocals on another Monk favorite, “Ask Me Now.” Her unaccompanied solo on “My Old Flame” is a terrific programmatic detour. Wood expresses the melody and the form of the old chestnut with such clarity that the listener does not miss the rhythm section. Highly recommended hard-bop fare.

Juli Wood – Tenor, baritone, alto saxophones/vocals
Larry Bowen – Trumpet/flugelhorn
Steve Berry – Trombone
Pete Benson – Organ
Todd Howell – Drums
Dan Delorenzo – Bass
Mike Schlick – Drums