Greg Abate Carries the Torch of Phil Woods and the Enduring Spirit of Bebop Jazz

An Upcoming Historic Performance at the Northwest Jazz Festival

In the rich history of jazz, the passing down of legacies from one generation to the next has been a significant part of the longevity of the genre. At the heart of jazz lies the origins of bebop jazz, which has left an indelible mark on the history of the music. Saxophonist Greg Abate stands as both a torchbearer for the legendary Phil Woods and a torchbearer for the enduring spirit of bebop jazz.

Phil Woods: A Bebop Jazz Icon

© Garth Woods

Phil Woods, an icon in the realm of jazz, was a virtuoso saxophonist and composer whose influence reverberated across generations. His impeccable technique, distinctive tone, and profound improvisational skills earned him a place among the genre’s giants. Known for his collaborations with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Woods’ legacy became synonymous with the enduring art of bebop jazz.

Carrying the Legacy Forward

Greg Abate, a prolific alto saxophonist in his own right, has been one of several that embraced the profound responsibility of carrying forward the legacy that Phil Woods left behind. Abate’s connection to Woods goes beyond mere admiration; he enjoyed a personal and musical friendship with the great saxophonist. Performing and recording with the jazz giant. 

Their 2016 album, “Kindred Spirits,” became an instant classic and must-have for jazz fans, especially those who revere the art of bebop jazz.  The live recording turned out to be one of the last performances by Woods, passing before the album was released. In 2012, Abate and Woods paired together on “The Greg Abate Quintet featuring Phil Woods” where two generations of bebop artists went note for note on exciting bebop tunes. 

Greg Abate performance with Phil Woods in this instant classic

As Abate steps onto the stage, he does so with a dedication to honoring Woods’ contribution to bebop jazz while infusing his performances with his own unique voice. 

Bebop, with its captivating melodies, lightning-fast improvisations, and complex harmonies, continues to resonate with audiences worldwide. Greg Abate, with his commanding saxophone prowess, embodies the essence of bebop’s spirit. He seamlessly navigates the intricate lines and expressive phrasing that characterize the art of bebop jazz.

Award-Winning Recognition

Through his performances and recordings, Abate continues to astound. He has played with the Ray Charles Orchestra, the revived Artie Shaw Orchestra, and other jazz greats. With his own unique voice and collaborations, he has recorded and produced spectacular albums that have received recognition from the Downbeat Critic’s Poll and the Grammy’s. His recent 2021 album with NEA Jazz Master pianist Kenny Baron, “Magic Dance: The Music of Kenny Barron,” was hailed as one of the best albums of 2021 and acclaimed as truly magical.  The torch he carries is not merely a symbol; it’s a commitment to preserving the artistry and innovation that define bebop jazz.

Recognized as one of the top albums of 2021 by Downbeat Magazine

An Upcoming Performance Not to be Missed

Greg Abate’s dedication to upholding the legacy of Phil Woods and bebop jazz takes center stage in his upcoming appearance at the Northwest Jazz Festival in Lewiston, NY (Saturday, August 26 at 6 pm). This concert performance promises to be a true celebration of jazz’s heritage and future. Abate’s collaboration with the award-winning trio of pianist Bill O’Connell, bassist Harvie S, and drummer Jason Tiemann amplifies the excitement, bringing together an ensemble of exceptional talents who share a passion for the genre’s history and evolution. 

Check out Bill O’Connell’s latest recording featuring Randy Brecker

The Greg Abate Quartet scheduled for 6:00 pm on the Main Stage at the festival, is an incredible combination of four jazz artists whose list of recordings and performances are some of the most notable in the past three decades. 

Greg Abate’s commitment to paying homage to Phil Woods and preserving the essence of bebop jazz is a testament to the enduring power of this art form. His performances resonate not only with the brilliance of his playing but also with the echoes of jazz history. Abate’s journey is a reminder that jazz is not merely a genre—it’s a living, breathing entity that evolves through the hands, hearts, and talents of musicians like him. In every note he plays, he carries forward the torch of bebop’s brilliance, ensuring that its light continues to shine brightly for generations to come.

Greg Abate’s latest album features a live performance

Greg Abate’s upcoming appearance at the Northwest Jazz Festival in Lewiston, NY alongside Bill O’Connell, Harvie S, and Jason Tiemann promises to be an unforgettable performance that will put on display the enormous talents of Greg Abate and his quartet.  Certainly not to be missed!

For more information on each member of the Greg Abate Quartet, visit this link: https://jazzbuffalo.org/event/greg-abate-quartet/

For more information on the Northwest Jazz Festival in Lewiston, NY, visit this link: https://www.lewistonjazz.com/

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