When I first put this CD on, I was intimidated. I'm not the biggest saxophone fan in the world, and while I appreciate the vital role saxophone plays in jazz, some of it (like Roscoe Mitchell's Sound and free jazz stuff by Evan Parker) is just too much noise for me. So I wasn't sure how a double sax quintet would sound to me, and as the first track took off, I thought, oh great, just what I need, twice as much blowing and half as much music. But Lew and Phil soon settled into a harmonic interplay - that I missed completely. The second time I listened to this CD, I wondered how I couldn't hear it the first time through. In many ways, this is one of the most fascinating and interesting works of jazz musicianship I own. True, it will never be my ultimate favorite, but some of the songs, like Limehouse Blues and Sittin' Here are close to being classics. Petite Chanson features Woods on clarinet and Tabackin on flute, and the effect is stunning, memorable, and marvelous. In the rhythm section, Jimmy Rowles, famous for his collaboration with Zoot Sims on works such as If I'm Lucky, really holds things together, as Michael Moore and Bill Goodwin swing along on bass and drums. To invoke the familiar desert island metaphor, should you find me on one I won't have this CD with me, but if you come over my house, I'll have it reasonably handy as I'm pretty sure I will listen to it regularly. Even with the intimidation factor, I give it four stars.
(The 46 reeds are the number I count on the front cover art.)