The education of Grace Kelly

By JON GARELICK  |  January 19, 2011

You can hear what Udden is talking about on any number of tracks from Kelly's past few CDs. On her tune "101," from 2008's Mood Changes, where she switches to soprano sax, the ideas just about explode out of her horn across keys and bar lines. "NY at Noon" shows her in fearless freefall with Konitz. And her writing continues to mature, not only in her fiendishly tricky arrangement of "I Want To Be Happy" with trumpeter Jason Palmer and distinguished Berklee trombone sage Hal Crook, but in pop-flavored vocal features like "Gone" (with lyrics by David Greenberg), from Man with the Hat. Writing, she says, is still her biggest challenge — though she was undaunted in presenting her own orchestration of an original with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops.

One of the highlights of the new disc is her arrangement of Cole Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye." It's an instrumental — just a duo for alto and Evan Gregor's bass — but you can hear Kelly's sensitivity to the lyrics in her playing, her willingness to respond, to let a phrase drop with a Konitz-like dying fall. There's no trickery, no gimmicks, no "licks."

"She needs smoothing out," Woods says wryly over the phone. "Another 50 years on the bandstand." But, recalling his confusion over recognizing his own solo, he adds, "That's pretty strange, that she can fool me. Get out of here! Give back the hat — you're too good!"

GRACE KELLY & PHIL WOODS | Scullers, DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Rd, Boston | January 21 at 8 + 10 pm | $25 | 617.562.4111 or

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