Grace Kelly Quintet With Special Guest Phil Woods: Man With the Hat at The Kennedy Center

What do a 19 year-old female and an 80 year-old male have in common? They both are incredible saxophone players who represent what jazz can do when bridging the gap between the generations.

Grace Kelly.

Grace Kelly.

Grace Kelly is a quadruple threat: she plays saxophone, sings, composes, and arranges. Phil Woods has been playing saxophone for over 60 years since being hired by Quincy Jones to play lead alto with Dizzy Gillespie’s band. The blend of these two performers is just entrancing and the choice of material ranges from standards to original compositions.

The evening started with the Jerome Kern standard The Way You Look Tonight which featured a snazzy trumpet solo by Jason Palmer and was arranged to be more of a swing piece than the usual ballad. Already Ms Kelly’s inventiveness for the evening was starting to glow.

Next was the original composition written by Kelly -the title track from Kelly and Wood’s CD The Man with the Hat. This piece featured the rest of the quintet: Evan Gregor on Bass, Jordan Perlson on Drums and Doug Johnson on Piano. The song was written specifically as a tribute to Phil Woods who is a mentor of Kelly.

Phil Woods

People Time is a Benny Carter composition usually performed as an instrumental. For the first time – the lyrics that were written by Deborah Pearl about how Benny Carter’s wife missed her husband when he was out on the road were heard. Kelly has a sweet and soulful sound reminiscent of Blossom Dearie. If you don’t know who Dearie is, check out one of her recordings and you will hear the similarities.

The rest of the program included Love Song composed by Phil Woods, Kelly’s original “Filosophical Flying Fish,” “Bye Bye Bye Blackbird,” which featured just Kelly and Evan Gregor with a great bass solo, “Night Time Star,” which Kelly composed as a song for her boyfriend, and the program ended with Bud Powell’s “Webb City.” which featured a solo for every member in the quintet.

The cozy confines of the KC Jazz Club was the perfect venue to see Phil Woods – a giant of the jazz world and Grace Kelly – a performer who is destined to become a future jazz giant, too.  I look forward to many more good things from both of these wonderful performers.

Running Time: 70 minutes with no intermission.

This was a one night only event.


Phil Woods website.

Grace Kelly’s website.

Watch Grace Kelly music video “Sweet Sweet Baby.”

Phil Woods plays “April in Paris.”

Phil Woods and Grace Kelly play at Festival International de Jazz de Montréal 2011.

Buy the CD of Man With the Hat.