Tommy Flanagan Trio
Courtesy of Blue Note Tokyo
One of the last of a dying breed of old-school be-bop players, jazz pianist Tommy
Flanagan and special guest saxophonist Phil Woods set up shop at the Blue Note Tokyo in
the first week of June.
Emerging out of Detroit' dynamic jazz scene, Tommy Flanagan spent decades as a sideman,
including an extended stint with Ella Fitzgerald, before emerging as the leader of his own
trio in the '80s. Flanagan recorded with Harry "Sweets" Edison and Coleman
Hawkins in the '60s before being chosen by Ella as her favored accompanist, a position he
was to hold from 1963 to 1978.
Emerging from Ella's shadow, Flanagan began to make his mark as band leader and soloist
during the '80s at the head of his own trio. His restrained and tasteful playing can be
heard in recordings such as 1982's Giant Steps (Enja) and last year's Tommy
Flanagan 3 (Pablo) just to name a few.
Tommy Flanagan is Phil Woods, acknowledged as one of the modern masters of the alto
saxophone. Studying at the Manhattan School of Music and Julliard in the late '40s, Woods
cut his teeth with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich and Quincy Jones before
launching his own projects. Since 1973 Woods has headed up the Phil Woods Quintet, which
has pushed the limits of be-bop over the years.
Along with a May performance by Sonny Rollins, Flanagan and Woods' shows will demonstrate
the stamina of jazz's remaining living masters, many of whom continue to maintain grueling
touring and recording schedules well into their sixties and seventies.
Tommy Flanagan Trio plays the
Blue Note Tokyo on June 5-10. See listings for details.