Philip Wells Woods, born November 2, 1931 in Springfield, Massachusetts, is a premier American jazz bebop alto saxophonist, clarinetist, bandleader and composer.
Woods studied music with Lennie Tristand, who influenced him greatly at the Manhattan School of Music and at The Juilliard School. Although he did not copy Charlie “Bird” Parker, Bop’s greatest saxophonist, he was known as the New Bird. After moving to France in 1968, Woods led the European Rhythm Machine, a group which tended toward avant-garde jazz. He returned to the United States in 1972.
In 1979, Woods made the recording, More Live, at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas. Perhaps his best known recorded work as a sideman is a pop piece, his alto sax solo on Billy Joel’s :Just the Way You Are.” He is also a fine clarinet player and solos can be found scattered through his recordings. Woods’ recordings have been nominated for seven Grammy awards and have won four.
Phil Woods organized and fronted some of the best jazz groups in the country, travelling throughout the world gaining fame as an American Jazz Master. His groups have always featured some of the top musicians in the business which includes such players as Pianist Herb Galper, bassist, Steve Gillmore, drummer, Bill Goodwin and trumpeters Brian Lynch and Tom Harrell. These groups continually performed at jazz clubs and festivals and their recordings are still in high demand by jazz enthusiasts around the world.
Mr. Woods continues to be an important voice for jazz. He enjoys working with students as well as teaching, mentoring and helping establish a connection between jazz musicians and the listeners. Phil Woods’ A Life in E Flat-Portrain of a Jazz Legend is a documentary film released in 2005 by Jazzed Media. directed by Rich Lerner, and produced by Graham Carter, the film offers an intimate portrait of Woods during a recording session of the Jazzed Media album This is How I Feel About Quincy. In 2007, Phil received a “Jazz Master” award from the national Endowment of the Arts.
Listen to Phil Woods playing a Jazz standard with strings.