Phil Woods in 1978 (Photo: Tom Marcello)
Yesterday, the great alto master Phil Woods passed away. Within the pop music world, he was known for his classic solo on Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.” Within Jazz, he’s remembered as one of the greatest alto players this music has produced.
Amassing an extraordinary discographical resume, Woods soon became one of the most influential post-Bird altoists, and also became a crucial advocate for the music, helping to found the Delaware Water Gap Celebration of the Arts.
Woods’ own quintet was a model of musical ingenuity, and he toured with it regularly for about forty years. During a 2012 visit to Dizzy’s, we invited an Essentially Ellington student to join us and interview Phil. He was a gracious and insightful speaker who gave wonderful advice to a budding saxophone player. The interview is below:
We made a short playlist of Phil Woods, which you can listen to here.